New and ongoing initiative to empower citizens launches today
Orlando, FL (May 1, 2023) – Florida has experienced a two-fold increase in antisemitic incidents in the last year alone, a disturbing trend, since history has proven that such acts undermine civil society as a whole. In response, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida is today launching a new and ongoing initiative to empower community members to recognize and respond to antisemitism and other acts of hate, prejudice and bigotry.
The Holocaust Center is inviting Central Floridians to sign a pledge that means they:
- Reject prejudice, bigotry and hate, which have no place in the community.
- Commit to a set of actions that help to stand up to hate and encourage others to do the same.
- Will help the Holocaust Center spread the word so others join together in declaring that every act of hate is one too many.
The Holocaust Center will host Combating Antisemitism: Crucial Conversations for a Unified Florida on Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Holocaust Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751. The event is free to the public but advance registration is required at https://www.holocaustedu.org/events/conversationaboutantisemitism/.
CEO Talli Dippold and VP of Operations, Exhibitions and Programs Dr. Christine Beresniova, State House Representative Anna Eskamani, Shalom Orlando Chief Security Officer Jake Silverman, and a Special Agent from the Joint Terrorism Task Force of Orlando will lead the discussion on how attendees can recognize and respond to antisemitism and other hate crimes. Dr. Joel Hunter, pastor of Community Benefit at Action Church and a Holocaust Center board member, will moderate the program.
The new and ongoing initiative is in direct response to a September 2022 report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hate in the Sunshine State. In it, ADL outlines a significant increase in extremist related incidents in the state of Florida and calls on efforts to prioritize anti-bias and Holocaust education.
“The significant increase in antisemitic incidents – public comments, symbols and harassment — demands our fullest attention in Central Florida, a community that both values and thrives on justice, tolerance and inclusivity,” said Dippold. “Understanding what can happen when antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry increase is vital but it’s not enough. Our goal is to empower citizens to take action through educational programming and discussions.”
Added Beresniova, “Antisemitism is known as ‘the longest hatred.’ We have been combating it for a thousand years. It is considered to be the ‘canary in the coal mine’ of social instability because where you find hatred of the Jews, you often find the floodgates open to other forms of prejudice and hate. It undermines civil society as a whole. Antisemitism may be a problem for the Jews, but it is not a problem created by the Jews, and so it is going to take everyone to solve it.”
Combating Antisemitism: Crucial Conversations for a Unified Florida (May 11) and Anyone Can Help Combat Antisemitism: A Conversation with Holly Huffnagle (May 18) are part of the Holocaust Center’s year-round programming that aims to impact public, private, and home-schooled students, as well as teachers, parents and diverse members of the community. Huffnagle, a non-Jew who found her calling as the national director for Combating Antisemitism at the American Jewish Committee, will share her story about why combating antisemitism is work that everyone can undertake.
About Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida and Holocaust Museum of Hope & Humanity
Established in 1981, the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida strives to build a just and caring community free of antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry. Its internationally recognized educational and cultural programs and exhibits showcase the history and lessons learned from the Holocaust to drive critical reflection and action. To meet growing needs for character education, it plans to launch the Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity. The new museum will highlight the voices of people who lived through the Holocaust, honoring their legacy and reminding us all why we must stand up to prejudice and hate. For additional information, visit www.holocasutedu.org or call 407-628-0555. Stay connected with the Holocaust Center on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.