UNION, NJ — In response to the rise of anti-Semitic violence and hate crime incidents, the Lesniak Institute for American Leadership hosted an anti-Semitism forum with the Kean University Holocaust Resource Center at Kean’s Green Lane Academic Building on Jan. 30.
With 561 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in New Jersey last year, 2019 marks the third consecutive year of rising hate crimes statewide.
Leaders from the community met to discuss the need to mobilize against anti-Semitic violence.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal attended the forum and said that everyone needs to take a stand against hateful conduct in their communities.
“The Lesniak Institute, along with the Holocaust Resource Center here at Kean, is holding a forum about standing up for the other,” Grewal said to the Local Source during the event on Jan. 30. “It’s a pledge that Dr. Chaudrey initiated a number of years ago. Really, to show that all of us are in this together in the fight against hate and bigotry and that we all need to take a stand whenever we hear hateful comments or see hateful conduct in our communities. We need to call it out when it happens.
“I think it’s a wonderful meeting,” he continued. “I think when people engage in acts of hate and violence like what happened in Jersey City on Dec. 10, that was meant to drive people apart, and I think what we’ve seen in New Jersey, in the wake of that horrible tragedy, is that people are coming together. What we saw tonight, is people coming together from all different communities, from all different segments of government and from education and from other stakeholders saying we stand together here in New Jersey to call out hate wherever we see it.”
Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality, also attended the forum.
“This was an extraordinary forum,” Goldstein told the Local Source. “A forum in which people from all oppressed communities came together to figure out a way to stop the epidemic of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. This forum proves that if we all stand together to fight hatred against one another, we will create a better world.”
The Lesniak Institute for American Leadership is based at Kean University and aims to develop the next generation of American leaders by teaching the principles of effective advocacy, offering firsthand experience by addressing its causes and partnering with grassroots organizations.
Former Senator Raymond Lesniak, the founder and president of the institute, was also at the forum.
“This is one of the most wonderful forums we’ve ever had,” Lesniak told the Local Source. “There’s one common thread. Everyone said something different, but they all meant the same thing: that it’s so important to understand and be educated about other people’s cultures and their beliefs, their religious beliefs, their heritage.”
Lesniak said such understanding is the only way to remedy the excessive violence and bigotry that’s been “coming to the forefront.
“It’s forums like this that bring everyone together,” he said.