JCRC — “Indianapolis faith leaders call for unity, vigilance after synagogue shooting”

Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, October 29, 2018

The crowd roared with applause during the rabbi’s stirring speech, rising slowly to their feet.

“I take that as an applause for life,” said Rabbi Dennis Sasso, of Congregation Beth El Zedeck. The ovation came after Sasso spurned what he called the “proliferation of guns” in the U.S. and Indiana’s lack of a hate crime law.

“This is not the time for arms, it’s the time to lock arms together,” he said. “Let’s make America good again.”

Three days after a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 worshippers, faith leaders gathered at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation on the north side to remember the victims.

The congregation swelled Monday night — with more than 200 attendees sitting down, standing on the sides and spilling out into the halls of the synagogue. They listened to speakers that included Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Lindsay Mintz, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. U.S. Rep. André Carson and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach were also in attendance.

The gathering came on the same day as the first court appearance for Robert Bowers, USA TODAY reports. Bowers, 46, is charged with 29 criminal counts, including 11 federal hate-crime charges, in an attack the Anti-Defamation League called the deadliest against the Jewish community in U.S. history.

As speakers took to the podium in the Indianapolis synagogue, they all, in their own words, called for unity.

“Every single one is us is an ambassador of peace,” said Imam Ahmed Alamine, of the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association. “We protect the mosques, the synagogues and the churches. I’m encouraging all of us to build these bridges, not burn them.”

Hogsett said the country is seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism, and urged people to be vigilant about what is right and what is wrong.

“Many lament that our national political dialogue is too much,” he said. “I actually believe there’s not enough. If we are to bind up the nation’s wounds it will only be if each of us has the courage to voice what is true and what is right. To drown out the shouts of hate with a communal chorus, that everyone belongs here,” Hogsett said.

Others called for action.

“We need more than prayer,” Rabbi Sasso said. “The (victims) were in the middle of prayer when they were gunned down.”

Jeremy Price, a professor at IUPUI, encouraged the congregation to vote, saying “we must call out and name the lack of common-sense gun laws that allow hateful people to purchase instruments of murder to maim and kill with military efficiency.”

After Saturday’s rampage at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the Jewish Community Relations Council in Indianapolis said anti-Semitic acts and expressions are “at an all time high, and increasing fastest in the Midwest.”

On Monday Mintz advised the congregation to practice their responses to people who spew anti-Semitic, xenophobic, Islamophobic speech. “Practice those words now,” she urged.

IndyStar reporters Ryan Martin and Natalia E. Contreras contributed to this report.

Categories: Newsmakers

Tags:

Post Your Thoughts

Related Posts
JCRC — “Central Indiana Jewish community ‘appalled’ after synagogue shooting”

JCRC — “Central Indiana Jewish community ‘appalled’ after synagogue shooting”

The attack on Squirrel Hills is a hate crime. The JCRC condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific attack on Jewish-Americans that happened today inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

JCRC — Nazi symbols appear on walls at Pike High School for second day in a row

JCRC — Nazi symbols appear on walls at Pike High School for second day in a row

“Nearly one third of all Jewish youth under the age of 17 had experienced anti-Semitism in the last year,” says the Council’s Lindsey Mintz. She cited a recent Indianapolis survey. Part of a national uptick in anti-Semitism including swastikas displays.

JCRC — DespiteEven as Indiana lawmakers from both parties continue to echo Gov. Eric Holcomb’s call for hate crime legislation, the deep divisions that foiled previous attempts to pass a bias-motivated crime bill appear to still be entrenched.  Monday, Holcomb announced his intention to get a hate crime bill through the Statehouse during the 2019 General Assembly session. He said he would be meeting with legislators, corporate leaders and citizens to find consensus so Indiana can join the 45 other states that have statutes regarding crimes motived by hate or bias.  “No law can stop evil,” Holcomb said, “but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims and their voices will not be silenced.”  Holcomb made his public statement of support for hate crime legislation following an act of vandalism at a Carmel synagogue over the weekend. An outbuilding at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla was spray-painted with Nazi symbols.  Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have since issued statements reiterating the governor’s view. But Democrats noted that while they have proposed and supported hate crime measures, their colleagues across the aisle have resisted and failed to take action in getting a bill passed.  “(The Democrats) have persistently pursued bias-motivated crime legislation in the Indiana Senate, and each year our legislation is ignored by the majority party with promises of future consideration,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.  Incoming Senate president Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said he is pleased to collaborate with Holcomb and the House of Representatives to continue the work of crafting “legislation that mirrors our Hoosier hospitality.”  Conversely, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, voiced support for the victims but was noncommittal about passing a law.  “This summer, the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code will take another look at the issue of bias-motivated crimes and identify opportunities for legislative consensus,” Bosma said. “Indiana Judges already have the ability to enhance sentences based on a criminal’s motivation when presented with evidence of bias, but perhaps more needs to be done to clarify and highlight this existing provision.”  Also Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill released a 761-word op-ed also calling for the Legislature to pass a law that “criminalizes hateful conduct.”  However, his position mirrors the opposition to hate crime bills that these measures carve out special protections for select groups. The list of protected classes often included in the proposed legislation is seen as excluding individuals who are part of a majority.  “My proposal differs from many other so-called hate-crimes proposals in that it avoids entirely the exercise of separating ‘protected groups’ from ‘non-protected,’” Hill wrote. “Why should some groups receive greater protection from hateful conduct than others?”  For community organizations pushing for a bias-motivated crime bill, the removal of the specific protected groups would be unacceptable. David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, called it a non-starter.  Hate crime bills that have been introduced in the Indiana Legislature in the past have included a list of characteristics identifying the protected classes. The bills specify that individuals or groups could have their sentences enhanced if they commit a criminal act that targets others because of their religion, race, gender and ethnicity. Holcomb’s support, hate crimes bill lacks unity

JCRC — DespiteEven as Indiana lawmakers from both parties continue to echo Gov. Eric Holcomb’s call for hate crime legislation, the deep divisions that foiled previous attempts to pass a bias-motivated crime bill appear to still be entrenched. Monday, Holcomb announced his intention to get a hate crime bill through the Statehouse during the 2019 General Assembly session. He said he would be meeting with legislators, corporate leaders and citizens to find consensus so Indiana can join the 45 other states that have statutes regarding crimes motived by hate or bias. “No law can stop evil,” Holcomb said, “but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims and their voices will not be silenced.” Holcomb made his public statement of support for hate crime legislation following an act of vandalism at a Carmel synagogue over the weekend. An outbuilding at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla was spray-painted with Nazi symbols. Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have since issued statements reiterating the governor’s view. But Democrats noted that while they have proposed and supported hate crime measures, their colleagues across the aisle have resisted and failed to take action in getting a bill passed. “(The Democrats) have persistently pursued bias-motivated crime legislation in the Indiana Senate, and each year our legislation is ignored by the majority party with promises of future consideration,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. Incoming Senate president Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said he is pleased to collaborate with Holcomb and the House of Representatives to continue the work of crafting “legislation that mirrors our Hoosier hospitality.” Conversely, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, voiced support for the victims but was noncommittal about passing a law. “This summer, the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code will take another look at the issue of bias-motivated crimes and identify opportunities for legislative consensus,” Bosma said. “Indiana Judges already have the ability to enhance sentences based on a criminal’s motivation when presented with evidence of bias, but perhaps more needs to be done to clarify and highlight this existing provision.” Also Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill released a 761-word op-ed also calling for the Legislature to pass a law that “criminalizes hateful conduct.” However, his position mirrors the opposition to hate crime bills that these measures carve out special protections for select groups. The list of protected classes often included in the proposed legislation is seen as excluding individuals who are part of a majority. “My proposal differs from many other so-called hate-crimes proposals in that it avoids entirely the exercise of separating ‘protected groups’ from ‘non-protected,’” Hill wrote. “Why should some groups receive greater protection from hateful conduct than others?” For community organizations pushing for a bias-motivated crime bill, the removal of the specific protected groups would be unacceptable. David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, called it a non-starter. Hate crime bills that have been introduced in the Indiana Legislature in the past have included a list of characteristics identifying the protected classes. The bills specify that individuals or groups could have their sentences enhanced if they commit a criminal act that targets others because of their religion, race, gender and ethnicity. Holcomb’s support, hate crimes bill lacks unity

For community organizations pushing for a bias-motivated crime bill, the removal of the specific protected groups would be unacceptable. David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, called it a non-starter.