We recently celebrated Chanukah, a holiday filled with joy and light, and yet this year’s Festival of Lights saw some horrible attacks against the American Jewish community.
In New York alone, there was an anti-Semitic attack every day in one week, culminating in the vicious stabbings at a Chanukah gathering on Dec. 28 in Monsey, seriously wounding five people.
The attacks came on the heels of the shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, where Jew-haters killed four people (and aimed to kill many more).
While we have always felt somewhat vulnerable (anti-Semitism is not a recent phenomena), we cannot accept this dramatic surge in violence against our community here in the United States. And yet it is coming at us from all directions.
The FBI recently issued a report that showed that 60 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes were directed against our community, and we have seen dramatic increases in the last three years of hate crimes against all minorities. Last year, hate-fueled murders reached their highest level ever recorded, with the murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh being the deadliest.
We have had enough.
We are not helpless, though. Law enforcement can and should increase patrols in threatened neighborhoods. Our synagogues and institutions must be protected. We call on Congress to pass the NO HATE Act of 2019, a bi-partisan bill that would improve reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes.
We also call on state legislatures around the country, including in Kentucky, to pass comprehensive hate crimes statutes, permitting increased punishment and prosecution for bias crimes. Law enforcement agencies at all levels must make the reporting of hate crimes mandatory. Knowledge is power, and we won’t really know the extent of the problem while there are gaps in reporting.
Finally, we can make a community effort to stand together against all forms of hate. Now is the time for our communities to come together, celebrate our diversity and shared values, and leave no space for hatred to thrive. In Louisville — our compassionate city — this should not be hard to do.
May the victims of all hate attacks recover quickly, and may tolerance and compassion be our mantras.
Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville
Chairperson, Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville