“Hate speech is what happens before hate crimes,” said Representative Steve Stivers. As a representative for Ohio’s 15th congressional district, he was one of the many people I had the privilege of meeting with this past Wednesday. Along with JCRC Director Rabbi Ari Ballaban and Operations Director Roger Apple, I traveled to Washington D.C. for a Security Mission. The one-day program was organized by Ohio Jewish Communities (click here to read more about the mission). Representatives from other Ohio Federations, JCCs, JCRCs, and their security personnel came together for a full day of briefings with congressmen and senators, where we were able to share our security concerns.
The day proved to be educational on both sides. We were able to educate the representatives and senators about security issues affecting the Jewish community, and they were able to give us insight into what they would like to see as a result of those concerns. Although I haven’t had extensive exposure to the political operations of our country, our time in Washington D.C. provided me with a glimpse of how the foundation of our government works really well.
I came away feeling positive. Regardless of political affiliation, what I witnessed were people who were genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of our community. They want to do the best they can for their respective districts, and ensure that all citizens – regardless of religious background – feel safe.
Among the details discussed were cyber security, funding for security grants, security personnel for schools, and understanding the importance of collaboration among law enforcement. We are fortunate to have wonderful relationships with our incredible local law enforcement, the FBI, and Homeland Security. They have proven to be invaluable.
While the conversations on Wednesday revolved around the Jewish community, what was discussed can help all faith communities. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many of our friends from different religions are facing threats and attacks. Just this morning we learned of the horrific attack against two mosques in New Zealand, resulting in the deaths of 49 innocent people.
I am deeply saddened by this recent act of hatred. No person should be made to feel unsafe in their house of worship – regardless of their religious affiliation. As members of the Jewish community, we know all too well the sadness, anger, and fear many of our Muslim friends must be feeling on this solemn day.
We send our sincerest condolences to members of the Muslim community. There is no place for hate and intolerance in this world ~ a sentiment shared by national organizations including the Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. My hope is that the good we are working toward in the Jewish community will prove to be good for our country ~ and the world ~ as a whole.
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