BOSTON (JTA) — Massachusetts lawmakers in a joint legislative session approved a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and calling for expanded anti-bias and Holocaust education.
The resolution approved Monday is expected to be signed later this week by the House speaker, Robert DeLeo, and the Senate president, Stan Rosenberg. As a joint resolution, it does not require the signature of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. The measure was sponsored by state Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem and state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, who are both Jewish.
The Anti-Defamation League of New England had initiated discussion about a resolution with its two leading sponsors out of concern about rising global anti-Semitic violence and the impact it was having in Massachusetts, according to Robert Trestan, regional director of ADL New England. He believes Massachusetts is the first state legislature to approve such a measure.
“Events in Europe have elevated the anxiety within the Jewish community,” Trestan said, referring to the murders at the kosher supermarket in Paris and the murder of a Jewish guard outside a Copenhagen synagogue.
He said the regional ADL has seen a rise in the number of reported incidents of anti-Semitism beginning with last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and since the murders in Europe. There’s also a concern about security for Jewish institutions, Trestan said, noting that Jewish groups have been specifically targeted. Increasing education about anti-Semitism and bigotry and hate should be a priority for all schools, he said.
Ehrlich, who represents a district north of Boston with many Jewish residents and institutions, said the resolution “shines a light on a disturbing trend while sending a strong, unequivocal message that such behavior will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth.”
Creem, who represents Newton, a suburb of Boston with a substantial Jewish population, added, “In free societies, education and remembering past tragedies like the Holocaust play a critical role in defeating fanatical anti-Semitism.”
A similar resolution that decries anti-Semitism and all forms of faith-based violence is under consideration in New Jersey, where a bill is expected to pass the state Senate on March 16, followed by the state Assembly, according to the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations.
The U.S. Senate is considering a bill condemning anti-Semitism that calls on American and European leaders to take specific actions to confront the scourge.