On Monday evening, November 29th, we drove to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland on Science Park Drive in Beachwood to take part in a “Shine a Light” gathering that addressed the disturbing rise of antisemitism that is currently taking place.
Along these lines, we learned that FBI stats showed that hate crimes rose significantly in 2020 and that approximately 55% of all religious-motivated crimes targeted Jews who comprise 2% of U.S. adults.
The program, significantly taking place on the second night of Chanukah/Hannukah 2021, was opened and closed by Mr. Bradley Sherman, Chair of the Federation’s 2022 Campaign for Jewish Needs, who said that it was “heartening to see many of our non-Jewish allies in attendance. It means so much to us to have support from friends from many parts of the Cleveland community.”
Following Mr. Sherman were the following speakers:
- Ms. Rachel Uram – former President of the American Jewish Community in Cleveland who shared with us a harrowing personal experience involving she and her husband being accosted by a hateful individual who was openly antisemitic.
- Reverend Sharon Cole – General Presbyter at the Presbytery of the Western Reserve who spoke on behalf of inclusivity for all faiths.
- Mr. Joe Cimperman – President of Global Cleveland, who shared with us poignant happenings that he had witnessed on a recent trip to Europe regarding the respectful interaction of different cultures and faiths. Along these lines, he reminded us that Global Cleveland was founded at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and that his organization provides a warm welcome to people who immigrate to the United States from all over the world which really means a lot in terms of breaking down prejudicial barriers.
- Ms. Hallie Kogelschatz – CEO of Shark and Minnow, who reviewed the insidious ways that antisemitism is often expressed and how social media has become a dangerous tool
- Rabbi Avery Joel – Head of Fuchs Mizrachi School, who talked about the history of Chanukah and its significance to the Jewish people.
The program closed with the lighting of a large Menorah by several people visiting from Israel and the singing of several Chanukah songs by young students from Gross Schecter Day School.
Afterwards, we continued our heartfelt fellowship by enjoying hot drinks and pastries together before returning to our homes.
We were thankful to Mr. Sherman for sharing with us his notes that contained a copy of a letter from U.S. Congressperson Shontel Brown (Democrat-District 11) that he had earlier read.
In the letter, the U.S. Congressperson wrote that “this week and every week let us stand together in rejecting antisemitism in all its forms and wherever it arises. Now is the time to make clear that hatred, discrimination, and darkness have no place here.”
Particularly hopeful was that, included in Mr. Cimperman’s party, were his own children, as well as their friends, who volunteered to accompany their father to this event because they truly believed in its message.