by John Steinberger | January 13, 2020 5:02 pm
Nearly 400 people assembled at Synagogue Emanu-El in West Ashley Sunday for the No Hate, No Fear Solidarity Rally to fight anti-Semitism. The event was in response to a series of anti-Semitic attacks in New York. during the Hanukah celebration. Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum told the audience, “It is not enough for us to be anti anti-Semitic. Today, let us respond to the hatred by showing the world our very best.”
Charleston County legislators described bills designed to deter or prevent violent attacks. Representative Wendell Gilliard discussed his hate crimes bill (H-3063), which includes penalties for crimes intended to assault, intimidate or threaten a person based on his or her affiliation. Senator Sandy Senn spoke about her legislation (S-276) to allow police to make arrests based on internet or verbal threats and perform mental health evaluations for the person issuing the threat and provide counseling services, if needed. Senn’s bill passed the Senate in April 2019 and is now before the House Judiciary Committee in the second year of the two-year legislative session. Gilliard has sponsored his bill for 10 years without advancing through the House. South Carolina is among four states without a hate crimes law.
Mayor John Tecklenburg noted that Charleston is the only city in South Carolina with a hate crimes ordinance, which allows fines and jail time for crimes directed at people because of their affiliation. He expressed the need to build relationships among people with different backgrounds to change hearts and cited the city’s diverse Clergy Council for pursuing that objective.
Philanthropist and business leader Anita Zucker, herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors, said that tolerance must be fostered through education. She worked with the Charleston Jewish Federation to develop The Remember Program, a curriculum to teach elementary and middle school students about the Holocaust. Research shows that 66% of millennials don’t know about the Auschwitz concentration camp. Auschwitz survivor Joe Engel, now 91, was transported to Auschwitz by cattle car in his native Poland at the age of 9. He was held captive in the concentration camp for nearly five years. The Jewish prisoners were liberated in 1945 by the Soviet Army. Engel frequently visits schools to explain the horrors he endured. He was one of only four people among 150 relatives who survived Auschwitz. Zucker noted that the Holocaust is not included in the South Carolina public school history standards.
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