February 21, 2024

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently hosted the Hillel International Israel Summit at Gillette Stadium, where he and 250 Jewish leaders condemned the rise of antisemitism. The iconic NFL owner and business leader was raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish family. He has not lost sight of his humble beginnings in Brookline, MA, or the Jewish faith instilled by his parents.

The NFL owner’s father, Harry Kraft, served as a lay leader at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline. He wanted his son to become a rabbi, and Robert was held out of sports and extracurricular activities so he could focus on Hebrew studies after school. Although he turned his interest to developing successful businesses and making the Patriots a dynasty instead, Robert has been instrumental in pushing back against what many are calling “Jewish hate.” He delivered these straightforward remarks during the Hillel International Israel Summit.

“We need to address antisemitism the same way we speak out against all racism, violence, and intolerance,” Kraft said.

Wearing a blue blazer and Nike sneakers, he took the opportunity to highlight his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. Also housed at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, Kraft’s foundation has been actively building partnerships and airing anti-hate ads during NFL games.

During the 2022 fall football season, the 81-year-old leveraged the foundation after anti-Jewish remarks were made by high-profile people. Television spots called Stand Up to Jewish Hate aired during games and invited people to band together against antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is hate. Hate against Jews. For being Jewish,” the 30-second ad released by the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism and the Robert K. Kraft Family Foundation said. “Recently, many of you have spoken up. We hear you today. We must hear you tomorrow.”

The New England Patriots fanbase knows the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of The Kraft Group as the local guy who built the NFL team into a winner. Those in industry recognize Kraft as a skilled businessman who elevates product lines and brokers profitable deals. But few outside the Jewish faith realize he has been instrumental in combating religious hate and racism.

“We must do more to make people aware that antisemitism is a growing threat against Jews on social media and in communities across the country,” Kraft said in a statement. “My hope is this commercial will continue to enhance the national conversation about the need to speak out against hatred of all types, and particularly to stand up to Jewish hate.”

Robert Kraft recently brokered a partnership with leaders at Brandeis University to combat antisemitism. The effort is being touted as the Robert Kraft Family-Brandeis Collaboration on Antisemitism. The foundation is expected to provide material support to make students more aware of the bias and discrimination against Jewish Americans.

“The rise of antisemitism and hate targeting Jews across the country is a threat to the Jewish community’s survival and needs strong leadership to combat it,” Robert Kraft said in the statement. “Through our Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, we are working to find innovative ways to educate and empower Jews and non-Jews to stand up to Jewish hate. Brandeis is the right partner for this important work, as its founding values are based in a commitment to create a better world.”

The relationship will involve a program that allows Brandeis students to earn a paid semester or yearlong fellowship at the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. The initiative is also open to graduate students and recent alumni. Participants can expect support that will “equip students, higher education leaders, and Jewish communal professionals with the knowledge, resources and tools to address hate against Jews and other communities,” the foundation tweeted.

Hosting the Hillel International Israel Summit at Gillette Stadium is one of the many ways he helps shine a spotlight on critical issues facing members of the Jewish community and others who are unfairly treated. Robert Kraft continues to give back to non-profit organizations in support of causes that create a better world. The Kraft family ranks among the world’s philanthropic leaders, supporting education, child and women’s issues, healthcare, youth sports, as well as American and Israeli programs. 

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