100 Years of Impact: Marty Budd
Date: July 29, 2013
In honor of the Anti-Defamation League's Centennial year, each month ADL Connecticut will feature a "100 Years of Impact" profile about a dynamic leader or leaders whose lives have been impacted by ADL. Former Connecticut Board Chair Marty Budd is co-chair of ADL's National Outreach and Interfaith Committee and has had five audiences with the Pope.
Marty Budd's lay leadership with the Anti-Defamation League spans four decades. He is a member of the Connecticut Regional Board, a member of the Connecticut Executive Committee and a former Regional Board Chair. As Co-Chair of ADL's National Outreach and Interfaith Committee, he is ADL's principal lay leader in charge of the League's outreach and interfaith efforts all across the globe. As part of that role, he serves as one of three ADL members on IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultation, a consortium of Jewish organizations that represents the Jewish people to the Vatican and other international interreligious organizations. He also serves on ADL's National Advisory Committee and as Co-Chair of ADL's Centennial Committee.
Marty began his interfaith work through the Hartford Seminary, where he has been heavily involved for just as long as he has with ADL.
"I've been on the board of the seminary for nearly 30 years, and I was chairman for six," says Marty. "So, here's a nice Jewish boy who is the chairman of a Protestant seminary and very active there. That's how I got my interfaith start and that's what made my experiences valuable to ADL to the extent that they were interested in me for interfaith lay leadership."
Perhaps Marty's greatest contribution to the Connecticut Regional office was during the 1980s. While serving as board chair, he worked closely with then-director Rob Leikand to turn the Connecticut Regional Office into a truly regional office. Up until this point, Marty explains, the Connecticut office was known strictly as the New Haven Regional Office, and did the vast majority of its work in the Greater New Haven area.
"After launching new lay leader committees in Hartford and Fairfield County, we had to work to get all of ADL's literature changed to reflect our change to a Connecticut Regional Office," he says. "It took a few years, but we were successful."
As a result of Marty's efforts, ADL now impacts every corner of Connecticut.
Marty's most prominent work with interfaith groups comes from his involvement with IJCIC. He attended the investiture of Pope Francis and in the last several years has had five audiences with the pope – three with Benedict and two with Francis. "But," he says, "I've engaged in dialogue with other important Vatican officials on Jewish affairs."
Through IJCIC, Marty is helping to spread the message of Nostra Aetate – a nearly-50-year-old document written by the Vatican that repudiates the ancient Christian charge against Jews as "Christ-killers" and reaffirms God's eternal covenant with the Jewish people – throughout the world.
"At the highest levels, the relations between the Jewish community and the Catholic community are extraordinary," says Marty. "But the teachings have not filtered down, both on the Jewish side and the Catholic side. The question is how to get the message out, especially in South and Latin America, because we've found that Hispanic immigrants coming into the United States have a higher percentage of anti-Semitism relative to the general population. That's because in the countries they come from, the priests – and the homilies that they hear – have not familiarized themselves with Nostra Aetate."
Interfaith relations, he explains, are fundamental to ADL's mission, "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all."
"A source of anti-Semitism comes from other religions who don't know the Jews, aren't familiar with what Jews believe, and so interfaith activities are relevant to the core interests of ADL," he says. "To the extent that you can have dialogue with the leaders of other religions, you can further understanding on both sides and get at some of the roots of anti-Semitism, and alleviate any misconceptions on both sides."
Marty has a hard time imagining a world without ADL.
"If ADL didn't exist, I'd have a lot more time on my hands," he jokes. "But at the same time, there wouldn't be anyone who trains law enforcement the way that we do, who combats bullying and hate on the internet, who works to ensure separation between church and state, who is concerned about equal rights for everybody.
"If you're going to spend a lot of time and treasure on an organization, in addition to doing good work and having strong goals, the other important aspect is the quality of its staff. I think the quality of the ADL staff, both in the region and nationally, is superb, and that of course is headed by Abe Foxman."