In response to rising incidents of hate in our communities, the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), in tandem with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), celebrated the recent passage of new, tougher hate crimes legislation in Connecticut.
This bill, slated to become the strongest legislation of its kind in the U.S., passed unanimously. Hate crimes previously considered Class D felonies, are now re-categorized as Class C felonies (making threats against a house of worship), punishable by 10 years in prison and $10,000 fines.
Community initiatives to prevent, educate and advocate against these threats have taken several forms. Under the banner of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven (JFGNH) State and local officials met at Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge with Jewish community leaders on February 23, to discuss the rise in anti-Semitism, targeted hate crimes and effective security tactics. After receiving security training on April 24, Judy Alperin, CEO of the JFGNH, spoke with community and faith leaders at Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel about increased incidents of violence.
Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven and its partner ADL actively promoted the bill through advocacy, culminating in the annual Legislative Breakfast organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council. Legislators Senator Len Fasano, Rep. Themis Klarides and Rep. Pat Dillon mutually shared their support for the new laws, encouraging the community and legislature to come together and set the tone by saying, “No more”.
In response, Michael Bloom, director of the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT) stated, “Nationwide, the rise in anti-Semitism and bomb threats against the Jewish community have caused stress, angst and fear in the Jewish community. These threats are real and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Steve Ginsburg, director of the Connecticut office of ADL, reacted to the anti-Semitic incidents by calling for, “the community coming together to say this is not who we are.” He pointed to a 100 percent rise in reported incidents to the ADL since last summer.
“Hate crimes are distinct from other forms of criminal conduct,” said Ginsburg, “as they have a special emotional and psychological impact, expanding beyond the individual victim. Whenever a bias-motivated crime is committed, the victim’s entire community is left feeling victimized, vulnerable, fearful, isolated, and unprotected by the law. Connecticut has made clear today that by firming up our hate crimes law, all of our state’s residents and their respective communities are much closer to safety.