High-resolution photos here (Photo credit: Orthodox Union)

Watch and listen to full event here

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, on Dec. 12 convened an urgent meeting with federal and local elected officials to address rising antisemitism across the United States.

The event was held at the Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side. In attendance were leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community’s synagogues, schools, and other communal institutions, as well as senior government officials. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams addressed the attendees.

The goal of the event was for elected officials to speak directly to leaders of the Jewish community whose members face the threat of increased antisemitism every day, as well as to prompt further discussion about how best to combat this threat.

Secretary Mayorkas attended wearing a yarmulka that his father wore 50 years ago to the secretary’s bar mitzvah. He said the Department of Homeland Security is “action-driven” in fighting antisemitic violence. He referenced DHS initiatives focused on overcoming hate, including an antiterrorism branch, a faith council, and increased cybersecurity training.

Sen. Schumer said: “The U.S., praise God, is not Nazi Germany. The roots of democracy and tolerance are much deeper here.” He further cautioned that when antisemitism rears its ugly head, “if we don’t speak out, it can grow deeper and deeper and deeper.” The senator added that Jews and leaders must persist and work together fighting antisemitism “with clarity and conviction” regardless of political disagreements.

Gov. Hochul announced a new “hate and bias prevention” task force that will be part of the state’s Department of Human Rights. She emphasized that this new unit will not “be sitting in a bureaucratic office.” She urged all citizens to “rise up…if not, we become complacent and complicit. And we saw the effects of that just in the last century. We’ll be judged generations from now on how we stood up to acts of hatred.” She said a “strong powerful voice” from the state of New York “will be heard across the rest of the nation.”

Mayor Adams spoke about the importance of punishing those who commit hate crimes, both against Jews and other groups. “It’s time for us to refocus our attention on the innocent people of the city and innocent people of this country and stop being a safe-haven for those who participated in criminal behavior.” Mayor Adams said he is ready to take a leading role in the fight against hate and antisemitism, underscoring that antisemitism is “not a Jewish issue but a human issue.”

In his remarks, Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer stated,

“The Orthodox Union is thankful for the strong showing of support from the Orthodox Jewish community and our elected officials today. We are confident that our partnership with community leaders and policymakers will bring concrete results in the fight against antisemitism. Everyone present shared the urgency of the rising threat, and I hope this leads to further conversations and concrete solutions.”

Said Orthodox Union Managing Director Maury Litwack, “The Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition will continue its work to secure funding for our communities at the state and city levels. Over the past three years, the state governments engaged by Teach Coalition and its partners have nearly doubled available state security funding from $58 million to $104 million. The expansion of these programs will further protect our communities from rising antisemitism.”

Said Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament, “Policy-makers and community leaders came out in full force today to support our communities in the fight against antisemitism. While we have accomplished a lot in past years to increase security funding for our communities, the rising threat of antisemitism demands more resources and more action. We will not rest until all our communities are adequately protected and safe.”

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Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union (OU), or Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.
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