Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. And while it is always a time to reflect on resiliency and the tragic lessons and losses of the past, it takes on new meaning and urgency when threats to the Jewish community remain ever present. Holocaust scholar Dr. Deborah Lipstadt’s recent guest essay in the New York Times gave voice to what many in the Jewish community have been feeling since – and even before – the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. The deadly attacks on Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Chabad of Poway in California in 2019 still haunt us. As do events that grabbed far fewer headlines like the arson attack at a different Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas, in October 2021 – where thankfully no one was injured, but the synagogue was severely damaged – or the recent antisemitic propaganda distributions in Colorado and multiple other states.
Rose Community Foundation joins local Jewish community organizations, leaders and grantees in denouncing the antisemitic terror attack in Colleyville and demanding increased public attention toward the rising number of antisemitic hate crimes locally and nationally. If you have not read the recent Denver Post op-ed from the leadership of Anti-Defamation League Mountain States, JEWISHcolorado and Temple Emanuel, we certainly encourage you to do so.
When we do not speak out loudly and collectively against acts of hate-fueled violence and commit ourselves to combatting antisemitism and bias in all its forms, we risk the normalization and acceptance of hate and discrimination toward Jewish people and other populations who are at risk of violent extremism.
We must speak, and we must act.
Rose Community Foundation has joined a growing list of more than 70 Colorado organizations from the Jewish community and beyond in actively supporting HB22-1077: Colorado Nonprofit Security Grant Program this legislative session. This critical bill would provide grants to enhance the physical security of Colorado’s faith-based and nonprofit organizations that are deemed at high risk of violent extremist threats due to their ideology, beliefs or mission. We are proud to be part of the diverse coalition supporting this effort, and are grateful to Representatives Jodeh and Michaelson Jenet, Senators Hansen and Priola, and the Jewish Community Relations Council for their leadership on this issue.
The Foundation’s support for this important legislation builds on our ongoing support since 2019 to help establish the Colorado Jewish Regional Safety & Security Initiative – a program of JEWISHcolorado in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, and the Secure Community Network (SCN), a national initiative of Jewish Federations of North America that gained much attention during the recent hostage situation in Texas. With the collective goal of ensuring the safety and security of the Colorado Jewish community and its communal institutions, the initiative and its regional director have helped Jewish organizations conduct security assessments and access federal grant dollars for security improvements, provided important safety trainings and planning, and improved security-related communications between local Jewish organizations and law enforcement. These efforts – and the ability of organizations to invest in their security infrastructure – would be greatly enhanced by the passage of the Colorado Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Individuals can help advocate for passage of HB22-1077 directly to their state legislators. If you are not sure who your legislators are, visit this website to enter your address and find your legislators and their contact information.
If you missed the virtual “Responding to Antisemitism: An Interfaith Call to Action” program on January 18, 2022, we encourage you to watch it here. Organized by the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region, JEWISHcolorado and Rocky Mountain Rabbis and Cantors, the program featured the healing voices and thoughts of local Jewish clergy, alongside civic leaders and a diverse array of inspiring local faith leaders. In addition to the many thoughtful expressions of solidarity, viewers were reminded that the presidential nomination of renowned Holocaust scholar Dr. Deborah Lipstadt as the State Department’s antisemitism envoy has been stalled in the U.S. Senate for nearly six months. Recent events locally, nationally and internationally underscore the importance and urgency of this nomination. Here is a helpful link if you would like to contact your U.S. Senators on this matter.
On this Holocaust Remembrance Day – and every day – we must remember, we must speak, and we must act.
Photo: Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas