October 28, 2019 — New York
Dozens of governors, mayors, and other elected officials across America joined the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in declaring yesterday a Day of Action Against Antisemitism.
“The targeting of Jews is a sign that something is fundamentally wrong with society,” AJC President Harriet Schleifer declared at the AJC Day of Action program in New York City, held at Central Synagogue. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Schleifer presented a series of actions individuals can take to combat antisemitism.
One year ago, on October 27, 11 Jews were murdered by a white supremacist during Sabbath morning services in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. To commemorate the victims of the worst antisemitic attack in American history, Jews filled the pews, joined by many of other faiths, at Friday evening and Saturday morning services across the country. More than 300 synagogues participated in AJC’s #ShowUpForShabbat, a reprise of the initiative first launched hours after the Tree of Life massacre.
The anniversary weekend followed on the release of AJC’s groundbreaking survey of American Jewish perceptions of and experience with antisemitism in the U.S. Nearly nine out of ten American Jews (88%) say antisemitism is a problem in the U.S. today, with more than a third (38%) calling it a very serious problem. Eighty-four percent say antisemitism in the U.S. has increased – and a plurality, 43%, say it has increased a lot – over the past five years. The full survey is available at ajc.org/antisemitismsurvey2019.
“Every day ought to be a day of action fighting antisemitism,” New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul declared in her remarks at Central Synagogue. Hochul presented the proclamation issued by Governor Cuomo designating October 27 “A Day of Action to Combat Antisemitism.”
“We are dismayed and disgusted to see the growing number of antisemitic and incidents and acts of violence – physical, verbal, and psychological – that are bring directed against our state and nation’s Jewish communities,” states the New York Governor’s proclamation. ‘We join with our state and nation’s Jewish communities to solemnly commemorate those lost on this day one year ago and draw inspiration from their strength and wisdom to speak out against antisemitic violence.”
The governors of Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia also issued proclamations, as well as the mayors of Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., and other elected officials. View the full list at ajc.org/national-day-of-action-against-antisemitism
“I thank AJC not just for remembering those we lost but for calling this a day of action,” said Mayor Bill DeBlasio. He praised AJC for “honoring the 11 martyrs with deeds,” referring to the list of action items distributed at Central Synagogue and available at ajc.org. “We have responsibility for each other. We can never let hate be normalized,” the mayor said.
During the Day of Action event at Central Synagogue representatives of 11 community, ethnic, and faith groups ascended one-by-one to light memorial candles in honor of those killed at Tree of Life.
“The most powerful tool we have is each other, to stand together,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. She spoke positively about Black-Jewish relations, and the need for renewed educational efforts to combat antisemitism and hate.
Israeli Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan said, “We have been following with great concern the spike in antisemitism incidents,” in the U.S., and around the world. Speaking of the “Jewish notion of communal responsibility,” Nitzan said, “we are one people, one nation,” and together will confront antisemitism.