Rabbi seeks help from other clergy in stopping hate
EDISON, New Jersey. (Press Release)–Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, pulpit rabbi at Congregation Beth El here, is tired of counting swastikas and hearing antisemitic cat calls when he heads home from synagogue.
It happened to him again on Friday night August 20th on Route 27, where Jew-baiting by local teens has become trendy over the last year.
On Friday night the lighting was so poor near the shopping center, he could discern only that the vehicle from which the epithets emanated was a dark-colored one and that the voices were female. The rabbi is also tired of calling the police, since there is little or no evidence left behind–and it doesn’t help when these hate crimes are dismissed as youthful pranks.
In recent weeks, Rosenberg appeared on local and national news stations, and other media, but the publicity, he feels, has now led to copycats who want to get in on the action. “The screaming girls are thinking what they did was cool. It wasn’t. And the local police and mayor have ignored my requests for assistance in dealing with these things. They don’t even follow proper reporting procedures under the State’s hate crime laws.
“Since the community can’t be protected from these obnoxious hate crimes, and the police won’t follow through, we, as citizens of Edison, must see how we can change these teen behaviors from the pulpit and in our classrooms. Danger lies ahead if we do nothing. Educators and clergy must get together to solve this problem.
“It is my personal belief, that once these kids get bored with yelling epithets about Jews, they will move on to baiting Muslims and Latinos, going from verbal violence to physical violence. Their behavior is an indicator of a failure in our educational system, which mandates Holocaust Education—but that doesn’t always work.
“The point of learning about what happened to the Jews during World War II is that we aren’t supposed to behave the way the Nazis did. We are Americans who believe in the Bill of Rights and that all people should be treated with respect and dignity. Our children need to know that and live by that.
“The only way these current hate crimes will stop is by working with students before they are hard-wired for hate. I hope that local clergy and educators will join me in showing our children that hatred doesn’t work. If we ignore what’s happening and do nothing, our children will take it as a license to escalate their behavior, and more people will be hurt. We’ve got one goal: to stop the hate.”
Rabbi Rosenberg can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Preceding provided by Congregation Beth El in Edison