Tragically, the Hanukah stabbings in Monsey, NY on December 28 were only the latest anti-Semitic acts against Jewish communities across the US. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) cataloged 1879 anti-Semitic occurrences in 2018*, ranging from desecration of synagogues and cemeteries to anti-Semitic insults to violent attacks resulting in injuries and death. The ADL reports that there have been incidents and crimes in every state. Such attacks continued throughout 2019 and into 2020.We experience shock and pain after each killing, attack, desecration, slur and insult. As Jews, Americans and humans, we are repulsed by targeted actions against any person based on religion, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.
The intent of these attacks is clear. The selection of targets is deliberate and intentional. We unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms, condemn all acts of violence motivated by religious or ideological intolerance. In this rising tide of reprehensible and cowardly acts, we must not become complacent or accept this as the “new normal.” We must challenge ourselves and others to recognize killing, violence, vandalism and intimidation by extremists as unconditionally wrongful conduct that threatens the very fabric of our society.
We urge all members of our Community to remain vigilant against all forms of violence, to build bridges of understanding within and beyond our Community and to speak out forcefully against intolerance and racism. The promise of America is a shared vision of ideals, regardless of national origin, religion, race or sexual preference. Anti-Semitism threatens our security and our way of life in America as well as that of every other affinity group.
The words of German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller after World War II still resonate today:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.
*The 2019 ADL report is not yet available.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Harrisburg express our deepest condolences to the local and global Muslim community. We share the sentiments of our national association, Jewish Federations of North America:
We are devastated by the senseless hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Our Jewish community mourns the tragic loss of 49 innocent lives. We know all too well the price of terrorism, racism, and hatred. No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship. The xenophobia that led to this unspeakable bloodshed must be condemned in no uncertain terms by leaders worldwide and the public-at-large. Hatred and vitriol must have no place to manifest. We cannot allow it to continue to violate the moral and ethical core of our society.
In Harrisburg, the Muslim community was a source of strength to us after the senseless killings of 11 innocent worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community now.
Watch for information about our 2020 program soon. This year, it will be held in York. This series is held in conjunction with our partners from the York JCC. Here is a list of our past programs:
2019 Thou Shall Not Hate: Personal Stories from Survivors of Conflict and Terror
2018 Dr. Eran Lerman
The Community Relations Council (CRC) Israeli Speakers Educational Endowment of the Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania was established in 2015 by Dr. Edward and Esther Beck and Dr. Gustav (z'l) and Rita Beck, to bring to Harrisburg and Central PA notable expert Israeli speakers representing the many different and diverse views and voices of a vital Israeli society to brief the Greater Harrisburg community on the many challenges facing Israel in this complex world. Speakers will be chosen by the CRC with the consent of the Board of Directors of The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.
It is hoped that enough funds could be raised to have at least two speakers per year in perpetuity and those interested in growing this important fund should contact Paulette Keifer.
Greater Harrisburg CRC Overview: Under the leadership of Julie Wright Halbert, Esq., our region’s Community Relations Council (CRC) reemerged in 2015, and is currently co-chaired by Marty Brill and Keith Welks. Three committees address critical issues locally, nationally, and internationally: Communications (Chair Jeanette Krebs), Public Affairs (Co-Chairs Steve Loux and Alex Halper), and Interfaith/Intra/faith (Chair Rabbi Carl Choper). The CRC works with representatives from the Greater Harrisburg community to proactively and reactively deal with issues seeking guidance from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and input from our members. Every affiliated organization in the Greater Harrisburg community has a representative member of the CRC. For additional information about the Community Relations Council of the JFGH, please contact Jennifer Ross at 717-236-9555 x3104