Addressing Antisemitismin Greater Buffalo
Antisemitism and hate of all forms have surged in recent years, highlighting the critical need to improve tracking, response to, and prevent hate crimes, white supremacist violence, and the spread of online hate. The Buffalo Jewish Federation and its departments, Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, Jewish Community Relations Council and LiNK, work in coordination to be a voice and response to incidents of antisemitism. Much of our intergroup work focuses on increasing partnerships and understanding as a way to combat hate.
Below are some resources that will help you engage in conversations and empower you to respond to antisemitic incidents and comments you might encounter.
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Adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism
Buffalo Jewish Federation adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as non-legally binding guidance for recognizing antisemitic activity or determining whether an alleged act was motivated by antisemitism. (Dec 2020)
International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) non-legally binding Working Definition of Antisemitism:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Examples of how IHRA definition can be used:
- A tool when engaging and educating policymakers, law enforcement, educators, and community leaders, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish community partners.
- Encourage the IHRA definition’s use as guidance for educators, judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials in recognizing antisemitic activity or determining whether an alleged act was motivated by discriminatory antisemitic intent.
What is Antisemitic Activity?
Antisemitic activity includes overt acts or expressions of anti-Jewish bigotry and hostility. Activity includes:
- Speech – written or verbal communication by groups or individuals, including public, elected, or religious figures. This includes publicly or privately directed letters, phone conversations, articles, speeches, e-mail, or other Internet communication.
- Vandalism – damage or other criminal activity against public or private property.
- Harassment, Threats, and Assaults – directed at individuals or institutions
- Discrimination – denial of employment, education, services, housing, or organizational membership
- Hate Group Activity – Rallies, recruitment, or other activities organized or sponsored by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or other white supremacist groups
Where do I report Antisemitic activity or other acts of hate?
Note: All criminal hate activity should be reported to law enforcement; If you or someone you know has been harmed or threatened, or if this an emergency, please call 911.
No one should be mistreated because of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability. If you or your child have experienced or witnessed an incident of bias, hatred, or bigotry:
- Notify the school or business where the event took place-try to give as much detail as possible regarding the incident. If graffiti or vandalism was involved, try to take pictures. If incident occurred in a school, contact Mike Steklof, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Notify Buffalo Jewish Federation Security Coordinator Susan DeMari, email@example.com. Susan has relationships with all level of law enforcement in Buffalo and Erie County and is dedicated to supporting the security needs of the Jewish community.
Where can I find local advocates and assistance?
When hate strikes, it is easy to feel isolated. Please know that there are organizations here in Buffalo prepared to support and assist you. The Buffalo Jewish Federation leadership work as a team to best address each situation.
- Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council is equipped to advocate on your behalf and provide helpful resources and a response as needed. Contact Mara Koven-Gelman, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo has a wide range of school and community education programs including teacher training workshops, in-school visits and presentations. Contact Lauren Bloomberg, email@example.com.
- Jewish Family Service of Western New York is here to help you or a loved one work through the trauma and help you cope with the experience of antisemitism. No one should have to heal alone. Contact Matthew Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How the Buffalo Jewish Federation addresses antisemitism:
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- Buffalo Jewish Federation and its appropriate departments (LiNK Jewish Buffalo, Holocaust Resource Center, Jewish Community Relations Council) respond to specific incidents of antisemitism in the community and in schools. Volunteer and staff leaders review protocols and continuously improve responses.
- JCRC meets with legislators and shares our priorities about addressing antisemitism and creating a just, caring society.
- JCRC builds strong relationships with other faith, ethnic and cultural communities.
For more information about advocacy/relationship building, contact Mara.
Teacher Training, Programming and Curriculum Consultation
- Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo Annual Teacher Training Conference
- HRC – Holocaust Survivor, 2nd and 3rd Generation Speaker Series
- Arts and Writing Contest for 7 – 12 graders
- Teacher Trips to US Holocaust Memorial Museum
For more information on Teacher training, programming and curriculum consultation, contact Lauren.
Student Education and Empowerment
- LiNK’s Jewish Teen Initiative provides leadership experiences for Buffalo teens (grades 8-12)
- LiNK’s Student to Student program is a Jewish high school peer education program to reduce bias and antisemitism
- LiNK programming helps parents, teens and community educators address antisemitism
For more information on student education and empowerment, contact Mike.
- A Jewish Call to Action: 10 Ways to Fight Back by David Harris, Times of Israel
- Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah Lipstadt
- Antisemitism: 90 Ways You Can Respond, Anti-Defamation League
- Defining Antisemitism, IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism
- How to Talk to Children About Antisemitism, PJ Library
- Resources for Becoming a Strong Jewish Student Advocate, AJC Campus Library
- Teaching About Antisemitism, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Translate Hate Glossary, AJC
- 10 Things You Can Do to Fight Antisemitism, StandWithUs
- Tools for Dealing with Antisemitic and Anti-Israel Incidents on Campus, Anti-Defamation League
Other Actions to Take
- Address specific issues in a conversation rather than argue.
- Create a discussion, study, or book group to learn more about antisemitism.
- Learn more and get involved with another community, different that you.
- Be part of Buffalo Open Seder (host friends of other faiths and backgrounds at your Seder) contact: Rachel@buffalojewishfederation.org.
- Avoid using anti-Jewish language or making references to Jewish stereotypes — even in jest.
- Lobby public officials to take action and make statements against antisemitism. Look up your NYS legislators here.