U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke on Dec. 7 on the Senate floor about Chanukah and antisemitism. Below is a transcript of his remarks, lightly edited for style.
Jewish people around the country and around the world will celebrate tonight, the first night of Chanukah.
This year, more than most years, Chanukah comes at a moment of grief, of trial and of fear for many Jewish Americans. And perhaps for that, it is all the more meaningful. The story of Chanukah is a story of perseverance. Perseverance in the face of unspeakable hatred.
We’ve been taught about how the Jews of a different age—forced from their land, forbidden to practice their religion, their temple destroyed and desecrated—gathered to pray in secret, banded together in the hills and fields, and fought off their attackers.
And once they endured, they set about the hard and slow and painful work of rededicating the temple and lighting once again the eternal flame of hope.
I believe that America should do the same thing right now: rededicate ourselves to that noble promise of being a land of tolerance for all people, all people. Antisemitism, frighteningly, is on the rise. Islamophobia is on the rise. Hatred and discrimination remain a festering wound in the soul of our country.
We must rededicate ourselves to stand against antisemitism and all forms of discrimination.
We must rededicate ourselves to building a more perfect union, one that preserves tolerance and equality for every single American.
I have faith that the forces of intolerance will lose in the end, just as they did in the days of Chanukah when Judah Maccabee led the Jewish people against an oppressive majority.