12 U.S. lawmakers, European envoys joining ‘Solidarity Sabbath’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Twelve members of the U.S. Congress and a number of European ambassadors will attend synagogues this month and participate in other activities to show their concern about anti-Semitism.

Among 11 Democrats and the Republican who pledged to observe the May 22 “Solidarity Sabbath” is Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate minority leader, and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., one of two Muslims in Congress. The sole Republican is Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

Also pledging to participate, according to the event organizer, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, are ambassadors to Washington from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Georgia and Cyprus. Noted human rights activists Chen Guangcheng, formerly of China, and Paul Rusesabagina, formerly of Rwanda, also have signed on.

In addition to visiting synagogues, options for participation include hosting a Shabbat dinner and organizing a meeting on religious intolerance.

A release from the Lantos Foundation said that “high-level” political leaders from Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Spain and Sweden will participate, although they have not been named.

The foundation set up a website for others to take the pledge.

“The Solidarity Sabbath provides a unique opportunity for leaders in Europe and North America to stand shoulder to shoulder against anti-Semitism and send a powerful message that this kind of hate will not be tolerated,” Katrina Lantos Swett, the foundation’s president, said in a statement.

The Lantos Foundation is named for Swett’s father, the late Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress. Lantos, a California Democrat, was noted for his focus on human rights and chaired the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in 2007-08.

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