California Jewish organizations express concern over rollout of Antibias Education Grant Program

March 6, 2023

Re:  Rollout of the State’s Antibias Education Grant Program

Dear Superintendent Thurmond,

We write to alert you to a significant concern we have with the rollout of the state’s Antibias Education Grant program and to suggest to the California Department of Education (CDE) corrective measures to ensure that the grants fulfill the state’s intended program goal of “preventing anti-Semitism.”

You may recall that JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa is a California-based non-profit organization committed to advocating for the rights of one million Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa and their Mizrahi and Sephardic descendants who comprise an estimated 20% of America’s Jewish population. This puts our numbers at around 1.4 million in the United States, fifteen percent (15%) living in California including Iranian Jews one of the world’s largest Middle Eastern diasporic communities. 

JIMENA’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum lesson “Antisemitism and Jewish Middle Eastern-Americans” was endorsed by California’s leading Jewish organizations [1]and 15,000 citizens.  JIMENA’s antisemitism lesson was unanimously approved by the Instructional Quality Commission in November 2020 and the California State Board of Education in March 2021.[2] 


Given your much appreciated public statements acknowledging our state’s antisemitism challenge[3] [4] and leadership role in the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education, we were surprised to discover that a large number of the Antibias Education grantees CDE selected did not include antisemitism as a focus area.  

In 2021 and 2022, Governor Newsom and the California legislature entrusted CDE with their $20 million Antibias Education Grant program.[5]  They were clear; these funds must be awarded to those that commit to place an “emphasis …on preventing anti-Semitism and bias or prejudice toward [other] groups.” (AB 130 (2021)[6] and AB 181 (2022)[7]) (emphasis added).

That did not happen.[8] We note that:

  • Thirty-nine percent (39%) of the grantees CDE awarded antibias grants to did not mention “antisemitism” or “Jews/Jewish” in their grant application (29 did not), 
  • Only four of the 74 grantees were specific and earmarked funds for this use (Conejo Valley Unified, Davis Joint Unified, Moreno Valley Unified, and Marin County Office of Education), and
  • those four grantees reach only 1% of California’s public school students. 

Corrective Interventions

This disregard of antisemitism education in the roll out of the antibias grants is inconsistent with AB 130 and 181 as enacted. We urge CDE to correct this immediately by:

1. Notifying all grant awardees (except the four listed above) to suspend this program until they (i) submit to the CDE amended grant applications which are specific on how they will use the funds to educate students about antisemitism including a meaningful budget and expenditures, and (ii) receive CDE’s approval of those revisions.

2.  CDE and the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) amending their December 2022 Ethnic Studies Professional Development Project contract (CN220217) to provide that resources and trainings developed under it also will emphasize antisemitism.

3.  CDE advising those in 1 and 2 above:

a. To consult with mainstream Jewish organizations leading the fight against antisemitism

b. With respect to JIMENA’s State Board of Education approved “Antisemitism and Jewish Middle Eastern-Americans” lesson,[9] for them to (i) strongly consider including it in the Ethnic Studies courses they adopt (for 1 above), and (ii) feature it in the statewide Ethnic Studies Professional Development Project trainings and resource materials (for 2 above). JIMENA’s educators can offer antisemitism trainings designed around this state approved lesson plan.


According to the California Attorney General’s Office,  Jews are California’s most prevalent targets of religious-hate crimes and increasingly so: 70% of California’s religious-based hate crimes target Jewish people, up 32% from the year prior. [10] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports that antisemitic incidents are at the highest level nationwide since it started tracking them almost 50 years ago.  

According to the AJC State of Antisemitism in America 2022 report, nine out of ten Americans (91%) think everyone should care about antisemitism, one-third (34%) acknowledge that antisemitism is not taken as seriously as other forms of hate.[11]  This is the state of things for our Jewish community despite lethal expressions by those who hate Jews from the murder of worshippers (Poway) to Jews being recently targeted with gunfire on the sidewalks in Los Angeles.[12]

As you know, California’s public school system hasn’t been spared from antisemitism. In 2019 California educators released an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft, intended for use in every school, that had antisemitic content embedded in it and omitted antisemitism from its long, varied, and nuanced forms of hate list.  Just last month, a tenured Hayward Unified teacher not only advanced antisemitic content as part of his instruction, it was reported that district staff took far too long to acknowledge community concerns and cancelled a meeting with the ADL to discuss it. [13]  CDE awarded Hayward Unified a $200,000 Antibias Education Grant despite the district’s grant application not specifying how it would work to prevent bias or prejudice toward “groups/individuals facing Anti-Semitism.”[14]

We hope you will take seriously the need for antisemitism education and implement corrective measure to ensure that all Antibias Education grants fulfill all of their required purposes.

Thank you.

  • 30 Years After
  • AJC: American Jewish Committee, California
  • IAJF: Iranian American Jewish Federation
  • Karaite Jews of America
  • JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa
  • SEC: Sephardic Education Center
  • Stand With Us


  • Governor Gavin Newsom
  • Ann Patterson, Governor Newsom’s Cabinet Secretary
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, State Board of Education President
  • Amy Bisson Holloway, Office of the Superintendent General Counsel
  • Senator Scott Wiener, CA Legislative Jewish Caucus Co-Chair
  • Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, CA Legislative Jewish Caucus Co-Chair 
  • Senator Josh Becker, CA Legislative Jewish Caucus Vice Chair 


[2] (Chapter 4 Lesson 30)




[6] (AB 130 Section 157)

[7] (AB 181 Section 138) 


[9] (Chapter 4 Lesson 30)

[10] (2021)




[14] Hayward Unified School District’s Anti-Bias Grant Application (October 14, 2022, submitted by Assistant Superintendent Davies)