The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism Fellowship: Fighting all forms of hate

Koby and Benedict pose together
Koby Gottlieb ’26 and Benedict Owusu, MA'24, each participated in an impactful fellowship experience.

Photo Credit: Gaelen Morse

By Kennedy Ryan
December 7, 2023

Benedict Owusu, MA’24,  knows what it is like to face discrimination and hate. It motivates him to stand up for others.

“Being a subject of hate before, I wanted to work with experts on fighting against hate in all forms,” said Owusu, a native of Ghana. “My fellowship experience is one that will forever be with me.” 

The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS) is working to raise awareness of antisemitism while providing resources to fight hate in all forms.  Thanks to the FCAS Fellowship Program, Brandeis students can be part of this important work.

Jewish people account for 2.4 percent of the United States population. However, 55 percent of reported hate crimes related to religion in the country in 2020 were anti-Jewish incidents, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the Spring of 2023, Brandeis and the Robert K. Kraft Family and the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism formed a partnership to address the rise of antisemitism across the country. 

The partnership with the foundation includes a collaboration with the Vic ’63 and Bobbi Samuels ’63 Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT), which hosts the fellowship program for Brandeis students. Open to undergraduate and graduate students, the FCAS Fellowship program provides students with a hands-on experience in combating contemporary antisemitism and a stipend to support their efforts.

Each semester, as well as over the summer, FCAS fellows work alongside the team at the Foundation’s  offices at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough (home to the Kraft family’s two teams, The New England Patriots and The New England Revolution). Focusing on areas of their individual interest, fellows tackle real-world challenges through research, outreach, and engaging with philanthropic donors.

As of Fall of 2023, Owusu was among nine students to have completed fellowships. As well, two recent Brandeis alumni are working at the Foundation in year long research fellowships.

Owusu will complete his master’s in sustainable international development at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management in 2024. He spent his fellowship experience helping the Foundation to launch the Stand Up to Jewish Hate campaign, an online platform dedicated to raising awareness around antisemitism. 

He assisted with social media content creation, writing articles for the website, and sending the blue pin (a symbol of the campaign) to important celebrities and public figures across the country. 

He also spent time researching initiatives across the country, including the  White House’s efforts to fight antisemitism. In addition to having a special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, H’19, the Biden Administration announced a national strategy to counter antisemitism, released in May 2023.  

Owusu’s biggest area of interest was the report’s illustration of the role of sports, especially sports professionals, using their powerful platforms to raise awareness about antisemitism, as they do with other social issues.

“I came to the Heller School because I wanted to highlight how we can use sports as a tool for social change and community development,” said Owusu. “Sports can connect people together in so many ways.” Upon completion of his master’s, Owusu plans to pursue philanthropic opportunities in sports. 

Koby Gottlieb ’26, a double major in business and politics, is currently participating in his fall fellowship. As a member of the orthodox Jewish community, he felt it was important to gain skills to support the community. He’s spent the semester working alongside the development department, organizing donor information and assisting with other philanthropic responsibilities.

“Unfortunately I’ve experienced antisemitism in my life,” said Gottlieb.  “Because of that, I have always had a drive to combat it, but now I understand the professional work that goes into it. There’s a lot of intention behind everything.”

In its first year, the fellowship program has provided Brandeis students with an extraordinary opportunity to learn about how to engage diverse communities in challenging antisemitism and other forms of hate, said Sara Shostak, director of COMPACT.