Over the past week we have been reminded that hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism still exist. The Jewish Community Relations Committee of Columbus (JCRC) was appalled and saddened by the despicable acts of violence by white supremacists and neo-Nazis that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn these acts and all acts of violence and incidents of hatred. We call on all of our elected officials to speak out forcefully, clearly, and repeatedly against bigotry, racism, and anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, the Columbus area is not immune to hate and anti-Semitism. Last weekend, a family in Westerville awoke to find the word "Jew" written on their driveway in shaving cream. At the same time, about twenty recruitment leaflets from a Michigan-based white nationalist group were distributed on front lawns in the same Westerville neighborhood. We cannot ignore these types of incidents, and we commend the family whose driveway was vandalized for immediately reporting it to the local police, who correctly took the situation seriously. We applaud the dozens of Westerville neighbors who showed their support for the family. We all need to raise our voices and take action against hatred, to demonstrate that anti-Semitism, as well as all forms of racial, religious, and ethnic intolerance are unacceptable and unwelcome in Central Ohio.
Your JCRC is on the front lines combating bigotry and anti-Semitism by addressing what is unjust and by strengthening our community education efforts. Each year, dedicated volunteers-Holocaust Survivors and children of Survivors-share their families' personal stories with schools, churches, and other civic groups, teaching Jew and non-Jew alike, about the causes, lessons, and consequences of the Holocaust. Last year, JCRC's Holocaust education efforts reached 5,000 people in the Central Ohio area. We will continue to be the leading voice on education about the Holocaust and the devastating result of not confronting anti-Semitism.
Current events have had a chilling effect on our sense of safety and security. Your JCRC is our community's coordinating resource for security. We work closely with homeland security, law enforcement, and emergency preparedness agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to protect our local synagogues, day schools, agencies, and cemeteries. We are proud of our partnership with our local security experts and law enforcement agencies.
What can you do to make a difference?
- Educate yourself, your family and your community about these issues. If you need assistance, contact the JCRC and we will provide resources and references.
- Communicate with your elected officials at the local, state, and federal level. Tell them you support their efforts to pass anti-hate/anti-Semitism legislation.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency and the JCRC if you witness or are a victim of an anti-Semitic incident.
- Follow the Federation and JCRC on social media for updates.
What will your JCRC do?
- We will remain vigilant and informed about all situations affecting our Central Ohio community through the many channels at our disposal.
- We will maintain communication and cooperation with local law enforcement agencies and will follow their advice about evolving events.
- We will collaborate with and support local, state, and federal officials on legislation combating hate crimes.
- We will continue to work closely with the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio, a coalition of nine different faith groups whose mission it is to create an interfaith community based on understanding, friendship, and trust.
In the coming weeks the JCRC will look to engage the community further on the issues of security and education. The issues that surfaced in Charlottesville will be with us for some time, and as a community we must come together and be unified in combating hatred, discrimination, and anti-Semitism. We all must speak out and act together. The philosopher Edmund Burke said; "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Through your JCRC we will act together to make our community stronger, safer, and more unified.
Dr. Arnold Good
Vice Chair, Jewish Federation of Columbus
Chair, Jewish Community Relations Committee
Vice President - Jewish Community Relations Committee;
Jewish Federation of Columbus