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NJ Interfaith Coalition Condemns Threats to JCCs and Vandalism of a Jewish Cemetery

February 21, 2017

The New Jersey Interfaith Coalition comprised of 150 organizations from throughout the State strongly condemns the bomb threats yesterday that targeted Jewish Community Centers in Birmingham, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Paul, Tampa, Albuquerque, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, and Buffalo. We also condemn the hateful vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

The New Jersey Interfaith community is united with others nationwide to express our outrage at the unprecedented spike in hateful rhetoric and bias-motivated incidents targeting minorities, especially American Jews and Muslims. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community because any hate crime targeting any faith is a hate crime against all of us.

We call upon all elected officials and community leaders to speak out against the rising tide of anti-Semitism as well as that of Islamophobia. 

We stand in full support of the following statement of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and we stand in partnership with them.

On Monday, February 20, 2017 the St. Paul JCC was a victim of a bomb threat. Indeed this marks the 4th set of bomb threats directed towards JCC's across the country in the last several months. In addition, it was reported over the weekend that a University of Minnesota student was arrested for a hate crime directed towards a Jewish student on campus. This appears to be the 9th anti-Semitic act on campus since the start of the school year. As rabbis, we are angered by the atmosphere that has seemingly become part of the everyday life of our community--an atmosphere of disbelief, fear, anger and great concern. And we call upon all people of conscious to heed the words of the Book of Leviticus (19:16) --"Do not stand idly by your neighbor's blood."
Sadly, in this time of increasing hate, too often, the response we hear from our political leaders is silence. When asked about increasing acts of anti-Semitism inside America, our President has remained silent. When it comes to other communities, silence has turned to anger and rage directed against Muslims as a class and immigrants as a singular community. As Rabbis, we recognize that there is no political philosophy which fits Judaism. There is, however, a religious stance that fits our understanding of humanity. Each of us, created in the image of God is worthy of the dignity that inheres in us as a result. Demonizing Muslims or migrants, remaining silent on anti-Semitic acts directed towards our community is wrong and needs to change. As a people, we still remember the world responding in silence to reports of an unfolding tragedy in Europe during WWII. We cannot stand idly by. We seek alliances with all who are willing to restore a social compact based on civil liberties and civil rights.
We are reminded of the words of Victor Frankel in a Man's Search for Meaning who wrote that the salvation of humanity is achieved with love and with freedom: “Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness."
We stand by all of those who oppose silence and hate. We seek to partner with all religious and other communities who affirm our responsibility to protect the dignity of every person and who celebrate the diversity which we know to be America.
Minnesota Rabbinical Association

The vandalism of more than 100 headstones at a historic Jewish cemetery over the weekend in Missouri was utterly hateful and disrespectful.  We urge law enforcement agencies to investigate this crime vigorously. President Trump’s statement of concern today about anti-Semitism and the bomb threats is welcome, but we urge him to instruct the Department of Justice to move swiftly to catch and prosecute the perpetrator(s) for this hate crime.

We appreciate the offer of a $5,000 award by the Council on American Relations to anyone for identifying people behind these threats and incidents.

We commend State Senator Lesniak for his call for action:"The President needs to direct his Justice Department and Homeland Security Department to focus on known Jewish hate organizations, infiltrate them and bring them to justice wherever and whenever possible,” said Senator Lesniak. “We can’t afford to be passive in the face of anti-Semitism and we can’t allow these forces of hate and bigotry to go unchecked. History has taught us the consequences of inaction and silence.”

We urge every New Jersey legislator who signed the Pledge to Stand Up for the Other on December 19, 2016 to put that commitment into action today.

The Pledge:

While interacting with members of my own faith, or ethnic, or gender community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and speak up to challenge bigotry in any form.

 

The complete list of the150 organizations in the NJ Interfaith Coalition is available on our web site, www.njifc.org. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to any of the following contacts.

Muslim Contacts

Dr. M. Ali Chaudry, Islamic Society of Basking Ridge: 908-672-1798This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Asghar (Alex) Kharazi, Masjid-e-Ali: 732-735-3371; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jimmy Small (Salaam), Muslim League of Voters of NJ: 973-580-4798This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

James Sues, CAIR-NJ: 908.267.3119This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mahmood Alam, American Muslims for Democracy: 732-874-3705This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Salaheddin Mustafa, Islamic Center of Passaic County: 973-818-0313;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sameerah Diaab, Muslim League of Voters of NJ: 908-531-9141; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Prof Raza Mir, Muslims for Peace: 732-754-9759; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AbdulRehman Chaudary, Muslim Center of Somerset County, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Imam Raouf  Zaman, Muslim Center of Middlesex County, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Councilman Kaleem Shabazz of Atlantic City

Jewish Contacts

Rabbi Marc Kline, Monmouth Reform Temple, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (732) 747-9365

Jacob Toporek, N.J. State Association of Jewish Federations, Scotch Plains, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(732)-986-4498

Rabbi Joel N. Abraham, Temple Sholom, Scotch Plains, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (908) 889-4900

Reb Deb Smith, Rabbi Or Ha Lev Jewish Renewal Community: (908) 303-8374; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rabbi Eli Garfinkel, Temple Beth El: 908-616-6995; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alan Respler, Jewish Catholic Muslim Dialogue of So. NJ: 856-424-4944; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Henry Maurer, Catholic Jewish Commission: 609-658-5151; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

David Snyder, Jewish Community Relations Council of So. NJ: 856-673-2524; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Walter Ruby, Muslim-Jewish Program Director: Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 917-294-1772

Rabbi Renee Edelman, Temple Shaarey Shalom, Springfield, NJ

Christian Contacts

Sharon Culley, Somerset Presbyterian Church: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

David Jahnke, Fanwood Presbyterian Church: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(908) 889-8891

Patricia Sandrow, Jewish Catholic Muslim Dialogue of So. NJ: 856-424-6059; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fr. Joseph Wallace, Catholic Jewish Commission: 609-522-2709; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rev. Douglas S Shepler, Second Reformed Church in New Brunswick: 732-545-0581

Reverend Susan E. Joseph Rack, Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church,
Martinsville, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (732) 648-6325

Father Dennis Berry, S.T., Director/Shrine of St. Joseph, Stirling, NJ  

Rev. Dr. LL DuBreuil, Faith United Church of Christ in Union

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

Rev. George H. Montanari, Middlebush Reformed Church, Somerset 08873

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 732-873-2776

Rev. Osvaldo (Osy) D. Nuesch, Pastor, SIX MILE RUN REFORMED CHURCH, Franklin Park, NJ 08823

Other Activists-Advocates

Joe Ritacco, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.732-739-5282, the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought, Monmouth County

Farhat Biviji, Jewish Catholic Muslim Dialogue of So. NJ: 856-428-5867; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Zahida Rahman, Jewish Catholic Muslim Dialogue of So. NJ:  856-784-2738; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

James Tyson, member of the Baha'i Community of Hamilton Township,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."

M. Rafey Habib, Rutgers University- Camden, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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