Top Delaware leaders gathered in Wilmington Wednesday afternoon in an effort to raise awareness about the threat anti-semitism poses.
Governor John Carney signed a proclamation as part of the “Shine a Light” campaign calling attention to the growing problem of antisemitism. It’s part of a number of events in Delaware and around the nation designed to highlight the threats that hateful words and actions pose to members of the Jewish community.
“Today, we stand together,” Carney said. He said it’s “extremely troubling” to see hateful acts from public and political leaders, as well as celebrities. “That’s just unacceptable,” Carney said.
“I can’t compete with 27 million followers,” said Rabbi Michael Beals, pointing to the massive followers of Kanye West. West was tossed off the social media platform after making anti-semitic comments. Even with a smaller platform than West, Beals hopes Carney’s proclamation will shine a light for the Jewish community.
According to a recent study by the American Jewish Committee, four out of ten American Jews conceal their identity out of fear, and 90% of those surveyed in the United States said antisemitism is a major problem.
Anti-semitism is a threat to their democracy, said Marcia Bronstein, AJC’s regional director for Philadelphia, South New Jersey, and Delaware. “People are afraid to come out to big community events. They’re afraid to go into Jewish institutions because we’ve had so much violence and shootings and harassment and graffiti and threats,” she said.
Delaware is not immune to anti-semitic violence. In 2020, the Chabad Center at the University of Delaware was intentionally set on fire. Though not officially part of the university, the center functions as a Jewish community center on campus and sponsors an officially registered student organization
Even though Jews are often targeted, Bronstein described the situation as bittersweet. She’s hopeful that other religious groups would not be attacked in the same manner that the Jewish community has been, but if it’s not the Jewish community, it would be another group, she said. As a result, “it benefits us all to come together and celebrate freedom and the ability to practice your religion, which is really what Hanukkah is all about,” she said.
The governor’s proclamation is not only for the Jewish community, but for all diverse groups in the United State. “We have great, tremendous diversity. I would argue that it’s part of our great strength. We’re not like a lot of countries, which is just one ethnicity or one religion-based,” Carney said.