Hope and Robert F. Smith to Focus on Core Values Among Jewish and Black Communities

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

With the ongoing national conversation about harmful bias towards marginalized communities in the U.S., a new global multimedia project launched to find commonalities between international communities. The project, launched by the World Values Network (WVN) and financially-supported by Hope and Robert F. Smith, intends to mend the divide by focusing on shared core values.

The initiative was announced at WVN’s Feb. 18 annual gala, a virtual event co-chaired by Robert F. Smith which highlighted African-American and Jewish-American fellowship. The global project will release short-form videos distributed via social media platforms, featuring world leaders, influencers, celebrities and sports heroes, who will discuss the core values that have motivated their work. 

Hope and Robert F. Smith— prominent philanthropists in education, Black entrepreneurship and social justice — donated the initial $2.5 million to kickstart the project. “Creating a world without racism or antisemitism relies on the continued effort to turn the shared values of Black and Jewish Americans into shared action,” Smith said on Twitter. “I’m proud to work with @WorldValuesNet to renew this commitment together.”

Smith was also honored at WVN’s March 2020 gala, where he highlighted the Jewish activists who walked alongside Dr. King during his marches. “The Jewish people were a part of the Civil Rights movement, and it’s a shame that’s not recognized,” he said. Smith has also been a leader on fighting racial injustice, from proposing a capital base to permanently close the racial wealth gap to freeing students of color from crushing student debt and increasing the number of senior Black executives

WVN’s mission is to “disseminate universal Jewish values in politics, culture, and media, making the Jewish people a light unto the nations.” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Executive Director of WVN, said the “brand new initiative” will begin immediately and partner with Black-owned businesses and technology platforms to produce inspirational content that unites families, promotes strong communities and inspires selfless giving.

Boteach noted that the Global Values campaign was inspired by the friendship of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. Although the two came from different backgrounds and faiths, they came together to fight rising racism and antisemitism. The two agreed that “saving the soul of America” was paramount. 

Smith and the WVN hope to use these shared goals — ending inequity, promoting shared opportunity and eradicating global antisemitism and racism — to propel the Black and Jewish communities towards unity and action. 

Learn more about some of Smith’s efforts to fight racial injustice, his previous work with the WVN and the WVN’s annual gala.