Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts Endorses City of Easthampton
First-of-its-Kind Resolution Against Antisemitism
Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and ADL New England Help Draft Resolution proposed by Easthampton City Councilor Owen Zaret
SPRINGFIELD, MA May 3, 2023 — The Jewish Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) and Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts (Federation), the leading Jewish nonprofit organization in the region, joined forces with Easthampton City Councilor Owen Zaret and ADL New England to draft a first-of-its-kind resolution to reject and condemn antisemitism in all forms. Led by City Councilor Zaret, this resolution will be introduced at today’s 6:00 PM Easthampton City Council meeting that will be held at 50 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, MA. Public comment will open at 6:00 PM. It will then be sent to the Rules and Government Relations Committee for discussion at their next meeting. If passed, the resolution would call on elected officials, faith leaders, and civil society leaders to use their platform to confront and combat antisemitism and all forms of hatred and bigotry. It would also seek to educate residents of all ages about antisemitism through public events, workshops, school curricula, and more. Easthampton residents are encouraged to email councilor Zaret at email@example.com, or call or email their City Council to vote in favor of this resolution.
“Antisemitism is a threat not just to the Jewish community but to all Americans who value equality, diversity, and tolerance,” said Nora Gorenstein, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. “That’s why we support City Councilor Zaret’s resolution and hope it will encourage other municipalities to follow. We encourage everyone to take a stand against hate and bigotry and work together to create a safer and more inclusive community for all.”
If City Councilor Zaret’s resolution is passed, the City of Easthampton will pledge to officially reject the perpetuation of antisemitism and condemn antisemitic acts and statements as hateful expressions of intolerance fundamentally inimical to American values. The City of Easthampton will also make efforts to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day and the gravity and meaning of that day. It will also seek to educate its Easthampton residents of all ages about antisemitism through public events, workshops, and school curricula. As part of this resolution, Easthampton public schools should include education about antisemitism in DEI curricula and to empower students to recognize and speak out when they witness antisemitism and all forms of hate and bias and embrace mandated state Holocaust and genocide education and offer robust curricula and educational opportunities. Additionally, Easthampton elected officials, as well as community leaders will sign a pledge to speak up against antisemitism. Finally, the proposed resolution will also include the following:
- Call on elected officials, faith leaders, and civil society leaders to use their platform to confront, condemn, and combat antisemitism in all its manifestations, condemn and combat any and all denials and distortions of the Holocaust, and promote Holocaust and antisemitism education
- Call on social media platforms to institute stronger and more significant efforts to measure and address online antisemitism within the limits of the federal constitution
- Ensure the safety, security, and dignity of American Jews in all aspects of their lives, including the workplace, college and university campuses, synagogues, and at home, as well as keep at-risk houses of worship, schools, and community centers safe from terrorist attacks and other forms of antisemitic violence
“It feels especially poignant that this resolution is being introduced at the kickoff of Jewish American Heritage Month. My hope is that this resolution will serve as a template for other municipalities and that we see action across the region and state to link up arm in arm against this historical form of hatred,” said Owen Zaret, Easthampton City Councilor At-Large. “Here in Easthampton, across the Pioneer Valley, and beyond to the rest of the Commonwealth and country, we can offer distinct action items and tools for the public to help say never again and support our Jewish friends and neighbors. I am grateful to the Federation, the ADL, and all the other supporters of this work.”
ADL’s White Supremacist Propaganda report, showed a 96 percent increase in white supremacist propaganda in New England from the previous year. This report showed a nationwide surge in white supremacist propaganda in 2022, with Massachusetts ranking second highest in the nation. According to ADL’s report, last year 465 instances of white supremacist propaganda were reported in Massachusetts. In that same year, 25 white supremacist events took place across Massachusetts. ADL’s 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents shows that they are also seeing a dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents occurring in schools and other public places, that include defacement, vandalism, and sometimes even assault.
“All too often, antisemitism is shrouded in invisibility and the paid experienced by those impacted by this hatred are not seen. Easthampton has taken an important first step in naming and speaking out against antisemitism,” said Peggy Shukur, Interim Regional Director, ADL New England. “ADL New England looks forward to partnering with the town and the City Council to follow up this resolution with action to ensure all are welcome and at home in their communities.”
In response to this alarming rise of reported cases of antisemitism across the nation, the Jewish Federation of North America created J.E.D.I. This initiative was created in 2020 to support the Jewish communal ecosystem by creating a culture of belonging for all Jews and their loved ones while building bridges across socially and culturally diverse communities.
The Jewish Federation encourages the community to immediately report antisemitism when witnessed by visiting www.adl.org/reportincident and, if it is an emergency, to dial 911. Learn more about how best to report antisemitism by visiting www.StandUpToJewishHate.org.
About the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts
The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts supports vital educational and social service programs to help those in need and create vibrant Jewish life in Western Massachusetts. Grounded in the values of justice, repairing the world, and Jewish unity, Federation connects people to a community that pursues social justice, fights hunger and poverty, rescues and resettles people in danger, and strengthens Jewish life. Federation offers life-long enriching Jewish experiences for people of all ages through a network of agencies, synagogues, organizations, professionals, and volunteers. To learn more about Federation programs visit jewishwesternmass.org.