Officials Announce New Hate and Bias Prevention Task Force; Commitment to Increase Federal Funding to Protect Jewish Community; New Efforts to Collaborate Across Communities

On Monday, December 12, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, convened an urgent meeting with federal and local elected officials to address rising anti-Semitism across the United States.

The event was held at the Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side. In attendance were leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community’s synagogues, schools, and other communal institutions, as well as senior government officials. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Senator Chuck Schumer, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams addressed the attendees.

The goal of the event was for elected officials to speak directly to leaders of the Jewish community whose members face the threat of increased anti-Semitism every day, as well as to prompt further discussion about how best to combat this threat.

Secretary Mayorkas attended, wearing a yarmulke that his father wore 50 years ago to the secretary’s bar mitzvah. He said that the Department of Homeland Security is “action-driven” in fighting anti-Semitic violence. He referenced DHS initiatives focused on overcoming hate, including an antiterrorism branch, a faith council, and increased cybersecurity training.

Gov. Hochul announced a new “hate and bias prevention” task force that will be part of the state’s Department of Human Rights. She emphasized that this new unit will not “be sitting in a bureaucratic office.” She urged all citizens to “rise up…if not, we become complacent and complicit. And we saw the effects of that just in the last century. We’ll be judged generations from now on how we stood up to acts of hatred.” She said that a “strong powerful voice” from the State of New York “will be heard across the rest of the nation.”

Mayor Adams spoke about the importance of punishing those who commit hate crimes, both against Jews and other groups. “It’s time for us to refocus our attention on the innocent people of the city and innocent people of this country and stop being a safe haven for those who participated in criminal behavior.” Mayor Adams said that he is ready to take a leading role in the fight against hate and anti-Semitism, underscoring that anti-Semitism is “not a Jewish issue but a human issue.”

Said Orthodox Union Managing Director Maury Litwack, “The Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition will continue its work to secure funding for our communities at the State and City levels. Over the past three years, the state governments engaged by Teach Coalition and its partners have nearly doubled available state security funding from $58 million to $104 million. The expansion of these programs will further protect our communities from rising anti-Semitism.”