Saturday, June 10th | 22 Sivan 5783

May 16, 2023 1:47 pm

Massachusetts Governor Declares May as Jewish Heritage Month and Launches Antisemitism Initiative


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Robert Kraft, and other Jewish and civic leaders celebrate the launch of the “Face Jewish Hate” campaign. Photo: Twitter

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey (D) on Thursday signed a proclamation declaring May as Jewish Heritage Month, joining other states such as Kansas and California that have done the same.

“We’ve seen things that we thought we wouldn’t have to see again,” Healey, discussing an outpouring of antisemitic bigotry across the US, said during a reception held in the Executive Office of the Massachusetts State House. “What’s really troubling is the vitriol, and something about the last few years has seemed to unleashed some really terrible pernicious, insidious things out there.”

Earlier in the day, Healey joined Combined Jewish Philanthropies, a local nonprofit that describes its mission as strengthening the Jewish community and its connection to Israel, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to launch the “Face Jewish Hate” campaign in Boston. The campaign is part of the larger “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” initiative Kraft created through his nonprofit, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), which asks social media users to share the “Blue Square 🟦” emoji available on IOS devices.

“It’s showing it’s head through antisemitism now, but this hate is against all minority groups, and I hope this blue square — that everyone takes on this Blue Square and uses it as a sign of solidarity and unity that we’re going to fight all kinds of hate,” Kraft told reporters after the event.

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“Face Jewish Hate” will include a webpage of personal anecdotes by Jewish victims of antisemitism. One story recounts the stabbing and Rabbi Shlomo Noginski, who was attacked outside a Jewish day school in Brighton.

Noginski credits “G-d’s protection” for his survival.

“But the real miracle is that I was outside of the school accidentally,” he told CJP. “If I came out earlier or later, this young man would have had unhindered access to the school and the camp, and it could’ve been much worse.”

152 antisemitic incidents occurred in Massachusetts in 2022, a 41 percent increase from the previous year, according to an annual audit the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued in March. The entire US saw a 36 percent increase in antisemitic incidents, with 589 incidents, including 91 bomb threats, targeting Jewish institutions and synagogues. The figures were the highest since 2017.

In December, President Joe Biden appointed an inter-agency group for developing a national strategy on antisemitism, which, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, will “address antisemitic harassment abuse both online and offline, seek to prevent antisemitic attacks and incidents, and encourage whole-of-society efforts to counter antisemitism and build a more inclusive nation.”

The administration has not yet said when the strategy will be made public.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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