JEWISH FEDERATION WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PUBLIC SAFETY PARTNERS CONDUCTED INTERFAITH BIAS AND SECURITY EDUCATION EVENT AT RUTGERS
On Tuesday, August 29, hundreds of interfaith community leaders gathered with representatives of the Middlesex and Monmouth County prosecutors’ offices, the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, NJ Office of the Attorney General, the FBI, several municipal police departments, and non-profit security consultant, Secure Community Network, for a day of education aimed at enhancing preparedness for security threats and bias incidents affecting all faith communities in Greater Middlesex and Monmouth counties, as well as others across the state. The day-long Preparedness Conference that took place at Rutgers Hillel in New Brunswick, was produced and sponsored by the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
After Jeff Schwartz, President of the Jewish Federation, opened the interfaith gathering on bias awareness and response, Middlesex County prosecutor, Andrew Carey set the stage for a full afternoon in which NJ’s top law enforcement and public safety figures presented timely and actionable information about recognizing and responding to bias. They included:
• NJ Attorney General, Chris Porrino, who affirmed NJ’s stance renouncing hate and the state’s commitment to holding those responsible for hate accountable
• Chief Investigator for the Middlesex County Department of Corrections, David D’Amico, speaking on recognizing and responding to bias
• Deputy Attorney General, NJ Division of Criminal Justice, Jeffrey Barile, speaking on understanding the NJ Bias Intimidation Statute
• Director of Community Programming and Outreach, Office of the NJ Attorney General, Leah D. Smith, presenting an overview of the NJ Law Against Discrimination
• NJ Director of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Jared Maples, providing a briefing on the current threat environment in the State of NJ and emphasizing what faith leaders can do to protect their congregations
• Director of Training and Outreach for The Secure Community Network (SCN), Mark Genatempo, presenting security education through a case study of recent violence at a Kansas City Jewish Community Center. Earlier in the day, senior advisor to SCN, Doron Horowitz, led an interactive table-top simulation training Jewish community leaders on handling security during the upcoming High Holy Days of the Jewish New Year.
Dr. Ali Chaudry, President of the NJ Interfaith Coalition and President/Founder of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, along with Rabbi Marc Kline of Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls, described interfaith efforts among faith leaders through NJ to stem hate in all its forms. Dr. Chaudry described Attorney General Porrino’s and Homeland Security Director Maples’ taking a PLEDGE TO STAND UP FOR THE OTHER and then led the entire group of interfaith attendees in taking the pledge, which reads:
While interacting with members of my own faith, or ethnic, or gender community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and speak up to challenge bigotry in any form.
Dr. Ranganath Krishnan of Om Sri Sai Balaji Temple and Cultural Center of Monroe, said “I am happy to be here for this conference. I’m a Hindu. An official of a Hindu Temple in NJ. I find the topics discussed and presented today very interesting and appropriate with the present situation of hate regarding race, color, and religion. I was very happy to take the pledge.”
Rabbi Eric Rosen of Congregation Neve Shalom, Metutchen, said “I want to thank the Federation for convening this gathering. Ultimately, information about the laws that protect us and relationships with fellow faith communities around us are the most powerful tools we have to keep our communities safe.”
Amy Mallet, First Vice President of the Jewish Federation, recognized the Jewish Federation’s Security Task Force and its Federation professional liaison, Amy Keller, for their role in making the Jewish community and all faith communities safer, more inclusive, and more vibrant. Mallet then announced an interfaith clergy mission to Israel, sponsored by the Federation, this coming fall. The trip is designed for faith leaders to better understand the dynamics surrounding the quest for peace in the Holy Land. It will be the second such mission the Federation has facilitated in two years.
Following the conclusion of the day’s program, Dr. Chaudry commented, “I’m very impressed with the community the Federation brought together, with a willingness to work together and share concerns. Bias is a problem for every one of us... today it’s against Jews, tomorrow against Muslims. If we don’t come together to cooperate, outsiders who want to spread bigotry will divide us. As human beings, we must overcome our fears. We all have the same interest in making our communities safe so we can all flourish together. Having worked with the Jewish community for many years, I have always felt a high level of sincerity in working together.”
Additional highlights included:
Attorney General Porrino and members of AG’s office, saying
Everyone can play a role in preventing and responding to hate.
The AG’s office is a resource to law enforcement in helping them understand the specific needs of the Jewish community.
Neo Nazis and white supremacists are not welcome here.
NJ rejects expressions of violence.
There has to be zero tolerance for this. "Smallest acts of hate need to be tamped down immediately. We cannot let that beast breathe. "
The AG’s office makes examples of bigots to prevent others from behaving in this way.
We are keenly aware bias and hatred isn't new in NJ or in this country, but reminded attendees of NJ reward program for tips on bias crimes.
All of us need to stand up. Do it respectfully, peacefully, lawfully. But please do it. When you need help pushing back, you know who to call. And we will stand by you.
Recognized interfaith gathering for what they all do day in and day out to stand up for each other.
Middlesex County Dept. Of corrections’ David D’Amico:
Presented pyramid of prejudice. Described Pyramid of Prejudice describing where prejudice comes from and how the learned behavior can be prevented or dismantled.
It's time that we started taking care of each other.
The best way we can increase security in this world is to take care of each other.
You and I can change the world. But it is only with you and I coming together.
What we can do as individuals: With people preaching hate every day, we each need to take responsibility. We need to stand up for the other. Shared the pledge.
Homeland Security Director, Jared Maples:
In Texas, we see compassion and hope. The opposite of what we see with recent stories of hate and bigotry. Be on the lookout for the good, with people of all faiths and backgrounds coming together as a community.
NJ may have the highest number of hate groups, but even one is too much. It is not the number of groups that is concern. It is the intent and capabilities that are the real concern. We have dedicated resources devoted to countering threats.