Amy Spitalnick, 35, Taking neo-Nazis to Court


@amyspitalnick / @IntegrityForUSA

The Jewish Week’s annual 36 Under 36 honors young leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers who are making a difference in the life of Jewish New York. For the full list of this year’s “36ers,” click here.

What do you do?

I sue Nazis. I’m the executive director of Integrity First for America, the nonpartisan nonprofit suing the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who attacked Charlottesville. Richard Spencer has called our lawsuit “financially crippling” and the case has emerged as a model of how to hold violent extremists to account at a moment when accountability and justice are so crucial.

How did the pandemic affect your work?

Before the pandemic, I spent a huge amount of time on the road introducing people to IFA’s work, speaking at conferences and events, and ensuring our case is fully resourced. Now, it feels like I live on Zoom. We estimate that I’ve done over 100 virtual events in the last 15 months, reaching tens of thousands of people around the country. One of the few silver linings has been the ability to connect with communities I otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit. But I’m certainly looking forward to a safe return of in-person events, in addition to the trial in our Charlottesville case when we’ll finally hold these neo-Nazis accountable for their violence.

How does your Jewish identity influence your work?

I’m the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Their story, and my broader Jewish upbringing, were always part of what drove me to public service and advocacy — but never has that motivation been as clear as the last few years. When neo-Nazis stormed an American city chanting “Jews will not replace us,” with the very same slogans and imagery used by the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s, it made crystal clear what is at stake — for Jews and for all other communities targeted by this vile, violent hate.

What’s your favorite place to eat Jewish food in New York?

Now: Russ & Daughters. Growing up: Ratner’s (RIP). 

Want to keep up with stories of other innovative Jewish New Yorkers? Click here to subscribe to the Jewish Week’s free email newsletters.