June 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

NJ Jewish Federations Mobilize State Leaders to Condemn Antisemitism

At a time when some university and Congressional leaders appear to shy away from focused and unequivocal rejections of anti-Jewish hatred, a new “New Jersey Against Antisemitism” initiative demonstrates that dozens of top state leaders are unafraid to make that call.

The statement issued in mid-July, signed by 90 political, communal and faith leaders in New Jersey, asserts: “In recent weeks, our area has witnessed an alarming rise in antisemitic attacks—physical and verbal, in person and online. Antisemitism, like any kind of hate, is unacceptable in any form. There must be no caveats and no qualifiers when condemning anti-Jewish hate, violence against Jews, and antisemitism in all spaces. We unequivocally condemn these attacks, reaffirm our solidarity with the Jewish community, and call on all community leaders to join us.”

The statement continues to elicit endorsements and currently, over 100 noted leaders have signed on.

The New Jersey Against Antisemitism initiative was orchestrated by the Jewish Federations of New Jersey, along with the Jewish Federations of Greater MetroWest, Northern New Jersey, Southern New Jersey, the Heart of New Jersey, Somerset, Hunterdon,and Warren Counties, in conjunction with the American Jewish Committee and the New York/New Jersey office of the Anti-Defamation League.

Particularly striking is that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, all 12 of the state’s U.S. Congress members (from both parties) and other prominent leaders, like then-NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Mayor of Newark Ras Baraka, signed the statement. Other notable signatories include Dawud Assad of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey; Cardinal Joseph W Tobin, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey NAACP; Tina Truitt, president of the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association; David Buckner, elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan University; Dr. Michael McDonough, president of Raritan Valley Community College; Uma Swaminathan, president of the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Indians in America; Reverend Joseph Wallace, director of Ecumenical Affairs of the Diocese of Camden; and others.

Linda Scherzer, director of the community relations committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, said she first brought the idea for the initiative to the statewide federation group following disturbing incidents in cities from New York to Los Angeles and locally at Rutgers University related to the Israeli conflict.

“We just felt we wanted interfaith partners to stand with us in condemning antisemitism,” she told The Jewish Link. “We felt it was important to show we do have support. Very often people say we always stand up for the other, why don’t they stand up for us? Where are our partners willing to stand up for what is right? We found out we just needed to ask and when they were asked, they gladly signed the statement.”

The diversity of clergy, organization heads and politicians “made a powerful statement in standing up for the Jewish community,” said Scherzer.

“I am grateful to the elected officials, faith leaders and community partners who have joined us in recognizing that antisemitism, like any other form of hate, must be condemned without any caveats or qualifiers,” said Joshua Cohen, director of government relations and external affairs, Jewish Federations of New Jersey. “At a time when antisemitic attacks are at historic highs it is imperative that leaders of good conscience and good faith speak out against this cancer of hate.”

Susan Antman, executive director of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, shared, “This letter is one touchstone in a continuum of interfaith/multiethnic/public-private alliance building. It serves as a public moment of strength and solidarity for the Jewish community and its allies, from which to continue the quiet and deeply substantive work we do to build understanding, address concerns and pursue solutions together.”

New Jersey American Jewish Committee Executive Director Rabbi David Levy told The Jewish Link, “The fact that we have all these organizations and all these leaders from outside the Jewish community who responded to our call says so much about the cooperation and leadership in this state. New Jersey is really a role model.”

“I was proud to be an early signatory on the New Jersey Against Antisemitism campaign because, in the face of rising incidents of antisemitism, an unequivocal condemnation and statement is exactly what’s needed,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) in a statement to The Jewish Link. “Taking a firm stand like this is the right thing to do and exactly what we’re called upon to do in public service. My hope is that this will help make clear that antisemitism has no place in our communities, and everyone involved in this effort will work together to ensure we confront it wherever it arises.”

To see the statement and the full list of signatories, visit https://www.njagainstantisemitism.org.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles