The following is a letter signed by over 55 Seattle-area Jewish leaders and local and statewide elected officials in response to the recent attack against a Jewish community in Monsey, New York on December 28, 2019. JFS joins all of the signers in asking you to stand up, speak out, and be counted. Raise your voice.
A list of resources for education and action on antisemitism is available here.
In the midst of Chanukah, our celebration of light, the shadow of hatred, fear, and violence still engulfs our world. Last night’s act of terror against a Jewish community in New York is a reminder that bigotry remains a daunting force. It culminates both a week of heinous attacks against Jews on the East Coast, and a sharp and troubling rise in antisemitic rhetoric and violence over the last few years.
Washington State has the fourth highest number of hate crimes nationwide according to the most recent FBI data. Today, antisemitic crimes comprise the majority of religious-based hate crimes in our country.
When children see armed guards in front of Jewish organizations and consider it to be normal, something is broken. When survivors of the Holocaust warn of troubling echoes of growing hate, we should listen. And when someone breaks into a rabbi’s home during a celebration of Chanukah to attack a community for its mere existence, our entire society should shudder.
We must call this what it is — domestic terrorism. In the face of a rising antisemitism, we call on our government for a meaningful response to the increase of hate crimes and hate groups. Antisemitism has many sources and origins — the proliferation of hate on the internet, the fading of Holocaust memory, and the absence of strong responses from the highest levels of leadership. This lack of action is both a cause and a symptom.
As the shock we feel turns to anger, concern, and sadness, we must respond. While victims and perpetrators are often obvious, perhaps the greatest danger to a secure society is the passivity of bystanders. Today, none of us have the luxury of being bystanders. It does not matter if we are religious or secular. It does not matter whom we love. It does not matter the color of our skin or our political affiliation. What matters is how we respond.
We must follow our ancestors and not allow those who seek to deny us the right to live and practice as Jews to succeed. We must meet intimidation with inspiration, and violence with unqualified justice. We must offer solidarity to those within the more observant Jewish community whose customs make them both more recognizable and more vulnerable.
We must overcome the complacency of bystanding with the courage of upstanding. We ask you to join us and stand up, speak out, and be counted. Raise your voice. We must redouble our efforts to educate and advocate within our community, and in partnership with others who are experiencing similar threats to their freedoms in our current climate. The simple act of showing up for one another is how we will begin to turn back this tide of hatred.
As we light the final candle of Chanukah, rededicating ourselves to our faith and our freedoms, let the power of our individual light become a collective flame, turning back this growing darkness.
Miri Cypers, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest
Dee Simon, Baral Family Executive Director, Holocaust Center for Humanity
Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO, Jewish Family Service
Nancy B. Greer, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Rabbi Daniel A. Weiner, Temple De Hirsch Sinai
Regina Friedland, Regional Director, American Jewish Committee Seattle
Rabbi Olivier Benhaim, Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
Rabbi James Mirel, Bet Chaverim Congregation
Rabbi Mendel Weingarten, Executive Director, Chabad at University of Washington
Rabbi Yosef Schtroks, Chabad Jewish Center of Olympia
Rabbi Shmuly Levitin, Chabad of Downtown & Chabad Young Professionals Seattle
Carol Benedick, Executive Director, and Rabbi Lauren Kurland, Congregation Beth Shalom
Albert Israel, President, Congregation Ezra Bessaroth
Ettie Davis, President, Hadassah, Seattle Chapter
Rabbi Emeritus Jay Rosenbaum, Herzl-Ner Tamid
Amee Sherer, Greenstein Family Executive Director, Hillel at the University of Washington
Rabbi Yechezkel Kornfeld, Island Synagogue Congregation Shevet Achim
Adam Steinberg, Northwest Regional Director, J Street
Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Kavana
Jeff Cohen, CEO, Kline Galland
Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, Kol Ami: A Center for Jewish Life
Rabbi Zari Weiss, Kol HaNeshamah
Rabbi Avi Rosenfeld, Mercaz Seattle
Raphael Katsman, President, Minyan Ohr Chadash
Mina Miller, President and Artistic Director, Music of Remembrance
Rabbi Benjamin Hassan, Sephardic Bikur Holim
Amy Lavin, CEO, Stroum Jewish Community Center
Senior Rabbi Ruth A. Zlotnick and Rabbi Jason Levine, Temple Beth Am
Rabbi Rachel Kort, Temple Beth Or
Rabbi Avi Fine and Rabbi Callie Schulman, Temple De Hirsch Sinai
Jeffrey Kay, Founder, The Tribe MC of Seattle
Rabbi Yona Margolese, Head of School, Torah Day School of Seattle
David Berkman, Director, URJ Camp Kalsman
Lisa Kranseler, Executive Director, Washington State Jewish Historical Society
Suzanne Greenberg, President, Havurat Ee Shalom, Vashon Island
Rabbi Barry Leff, Herzl-Ner Tamid
Randy Kessler, Executive Director, StandWithUs Northwest
Rabbi Sydney Danziger, Temple B’nai Torah
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, City of Seattle
Council Chair Rod Dembowski, King County
Councilmember Claudia Balducci, King County
Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County
Councilmember Jared Nieuwenhuis, City of Bellevue
Councilmember Jennifer Robertson, City of Bellevue
State Representative Christine Kilduff
State Representative Mari Leavitt
State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos
State Representative Tana Senn
State Representative Drew Stokesbary
State Senator Joe Nguyen
State Senator Derek Stanford
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
Councilmember Nate Nehring, Snohomish County
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
State Representative Roger Goodman
State Representative Javier Valdez
State Senator Reuven Carlyle
State Senator Mona Das
State Senator Karen Keiser
State Senator Patty Kuderer
State Senator Christine Rolfes
State Senator Jesse Salomon
Please note this letter was sent to many community and elected leaders who are away on vacation and did not have an opportunity to sign on. The list of signatories is current as of December 30, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.