BJC STATEMENTS

Baltimore Jewish Council Stands Against Injustice And Discrimination

The Baltimore Jewish Council joins Jewish communities across the nation in expressing our grief over the death of George Floyd. Our country has experienced too many incidents of police brutality, including the detention and death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. We stand in solidarity with our friends in the Black community, united as an ally in the fight for equality and the right of all people, regardless of the color of their skin, to live without fear of our government.

We must stand together against hatred and bigotry in any form and uphold the core American values of justice and equality. We commit to taking concrete action to improve relations and enhance understanding between communities here in Baltimore, and between minority groups and law enforcement officials. Because the function of law enforcement is so vital to society, and the because the majority of law enforcement officials are dedicated public servants, it is incumbent upon us to quickly and effectively address violations and violators in a manner that preserves public trust and achieves justice and equality for all.

May 31, 2020

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Statement from the Baltimore Jewish Council on Antisemitic Attacks in New York

The Baltimore Jewish Council condemns the recent series of Antisemitic violent attacks in the New York region.

Last night’s stabbings during celebration of the holiday of Hanukkah in a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y. – apparently motivated by Antisemitism – is the latest example of a horrifying act of violence against Jews. We pray for the full recovery of those who were wounded in Monsey, as well as others injured in the recent attacks in the New York area.

Now is the time for more to be done. We need closer coordination between private security and law enforcement. Public funding should continue to be available to protect religious institutions. Lawmakers must find legislative options to provide greater deterrence against hate crimes. All ideas should be up for discussion.

The Baltimore Jewish Council thanks our partners in federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as our federal, state and local elected officials, for joining us in their collective commitment to ensuring the safety of our communities. Public safety officials have been in constant communication throughout this series of Antisemitic attacks in New York to provide important updates and information.

We also appreciate the concerned outreach of other religious leaders. People of all faiths have a right to be safe regardless of their religious beliefs and regardless of where they are. We are more committed than ever to working to confront Antisemitism, bigotry and hate throughout our society.

December 29, 2019

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Statement from the Baltimore Jewish Council on New Jersey Attack

The Baltimore Jewish Council mourns the loss of four people killed during an attack on the Jewish community of Jersey City, New Jersey this week. The victims were Leah Minda Ferencz, the store’s owner; Miguel Douglas Rodriguez, a store employee; Moshe Deutsch, who was shopping at the time; and Det. Joseph Seals, a 15-year-veteran of Jersey City’s police department.

For the third time in less than 14 months, a Jewish establishment in the United States has been the target of a deadly Antisemitic attack. We are both devastated and horrified by these attacks.  Hate has no place in our society – here, in New Jersey, in San Diego, in Sri Lanka, in New Zealand, in South Carolina, in Pittsburgh, or anywhere in the world.

We pray for the victims’ families and for the full recovery of those who were wounded. We are more committed than ever to working to confront Antisemitism, bigotry and hate throughout our society. We are grateful for the law enforcement officers in New Jersey whose bravery and sacrifice helped save lives, and we are reminded of the efforts that our public safety partners here in Maryland make every day to help protect our communities.

May the memories of those who lost their lives be for a blessing.

December 12, 2019

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Maryland Jewish Advocacy Organizations and Key Legislators Applaud State Superintendent’s Plan to Boost Holocaust Education Requirements

Maryland’s leading Jewish community advocacy organizations and key state legislators applauded plans announced by State Superintendent Karen B. Salmon to enhance and expand required Holocaust instruction in public schools.

Earlier this fall, the Baltimore Jewish Council, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, and members of the General Assembly wrote to the state superintendent and Maryland State Board of Education urging them to more clearly define state requirements for Holocaust education. Fifty-nine delegates and 20 senators signed letters organized by Delegates Dana Stein, Shelly Hettleman and Michele Guyton of Baltimore County, and Senator Ben Kramer of Montgomery County.

“For years, we have been concerned that the state curriculum guidelines on Holocaust instruction are too vague and create too much potential for variations in the quality and quantity of what is taught among our state’s 24 jurisdictions,” said Howard Libit, Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. “With this announcement, our state educators are making an emphatic statement about our collective obligation to teach all children about the Holocaust in a consistent and detailed way.”

“Over the past few years we have seen an increase in hate crimes, incidents, and threats being committed at our local public and nonpublic schools,” said Ronald Halber, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. “We must address this disturbing trend with more concrete and proactive measures. Teaching about the Holocaust and genocides, and the origins of these horrific events, is critical to fighting hate and bigotry.”

The planned changes announced by Dr. Salmon include requiring Holocaust instruction within the state’s new 4th and 5th grade social studies framework, teaching about the roots of Antisemitism as part of middle school social studies education, and strengthening the required Holocaust instruction in both high school U.S. history and high school modern world history.

“As legislators, we have an obligation to speak up if we believe that critical areas are not being adequately and consistently taught in our public schools,” said Delegate Dana Stein. “We reached the conclusion that Holocaust education qualifies and changes needed to made. We appreciate that the state superintendent has listened to our concerns and is willing to make the necessary changes.”

A survey of 1,350 American adults released last year by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that 66 percent of American millennials cannot say what Auschwitz was. Nearly a third of all Americans in the survey believe that 2 million Jews or fewer were killed in the Holocaust, when the actual number is about 6 million.

“The latest national statistics on the lack of knowledge among American young adults about the Holocaust are very troubling,” said Delegate Shelly Hettleman. “Teaching about the Holocaust is vitally important for its historical significance in and of itself, but its universal lessons about the dangers of prejudice and racism will help ensure that genocide and other atrocities will never happen again.”

“As a former member of the State Board of Education, I know how important it is when the leadership of our public schools takes up an issue and explicitly makes it a more significant part of the state’s curriculum standards,” said Delegate Michele Guyton. “We appreciate the significant step taken here by Dr. Salmon, and we intend to stay engaged with the Maryland State Department of Education to ensure that these recommendations are implemented across all of our schools.”

In her letter to legislators earlier this fall, Dr. Salmon laid out a number of specific changes that she will be recommending, including:

  • Adding a unit to address the Holocaust within the 4th and 5th grade social studies framework that is currently being revised by MSDE.
  • Adding objective(s) regarding the roots of Antisemitism to an upcoming revision of 6th and 7th grade social studies education, to give students the context to study the Holocaust in high school.
  • Including a new Holocaust objective in a high school U.S. history revised framework that is nearly completed – “Students will assess the progression of U.S. involvement in world affairs by tracing the origins of the Holocaust and the American response.”
  • Adding an objective to “evaluate the cause, course, and consequences of the Holocaust” to the Modern World History framework for high school. Maryland’s current framework referred to genocide, but did not specially reference the Holocaust.
  • Emphasizing that local school systems should devote funding for professional development of teachers around Holocaust instruction.

In the 2019 General Assembly session, Senator Ben Kramer introduced legislation to require greater Holocaust education in middle and high schools in Maryland. While the proposal did not receive a committee vote, the testimony and conversation about the bill prompted the BJC, JCRC and members of the General Assembly to ask the state superintendent and state school board to make the type of changes sought by Senator Kramer’s bill.

October 23, 2019
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Baltimore Jewish Community Mourns the Death of Congressman Elijah Cummings

On behalf of the Baltimore Jewish Community, the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, and The Associated, the Baltimore Jewish Council grieves the death of Congressman Elijah Cummings. Our community, our city, and our nation lost a friend, a man of faith, and a remarkable leader. He was a champion of the city he loved and all of our community’s needs, priorities, and values, with a constant focus on creating opportunities for young people.

More than 20 years ago, Congressman Cummings joined with Jewish and African-American leaders and the Baltimore Jewish Council to create the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, a non-profit that prepares high school students to become future leaders. His passion for this program made a difference in the lives of so many, and deepened relationships between our city’s African-American and Jewish communities. The Congressman would regularly remind us that “our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see.” His work consistently reflected that belief. We are honored to have had the opportunity to work so closely with Congressman Cummings on this initiative, and vow to ensure it continues.

We extend our deepest condolences to all of the family, friends, and colleagues of Congressman Cummings. Our community lost a leader this morning. May his memory be for a blessing.

October 17, 2019

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BJC Condemns Weekend Terrorism Against Israel and Calls Upon International Community to Speak Out

For three days, Israelis suffered from repeated acts of terrorism – more than 600 rockets and mortars fired indiscriminately at civilian neighborhoods. Hundreds of thousands of families and children were forced to repeatedly hide in bomb shelters. A kindergarten classroom was destroyed by a rocket, empty of children only because classes had been cancelled for the day due to the violence. The dead included people engaged in everyday tasks, among them a Bedouin worker killed amid the destruction of a cement factory in our sister city of Ashkelon and a rabbi killed near Ashdod. The emotional trauma from a weekend of such fear is impossible to quantify.

There is no doubt that this weekend’s terrorist attacks were aimed to pressure Israel as it prepares for three major events – Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha’atzmaut, and the international Eurovision song contest to be hosted this month in Tel Aviv. We strongly condemn Hamas and Islamic Jihad for the rocket attacks launched against Israel, and for the suffering these terrorists have brought to the residents of Gaza.

While we are hopeful that the recently announced ceasefire holds, no country should have to endure a weekend of more than 600 rocket attacks against its civilian population. Where is the international outrage for this terrorism? We call upon leaders in this country and around the world to condemn this outrageous violence.

Israel has an absolute right to protect herself from attacks. We mourn the dead from this weekend of violence and stand in solidarity with Israel. We also mourn the innocent Gaza residents killed due to their leadership’s actions. We pray that this latest truce holds and that the Palestinian population is someday governed by responsible leaders, enabling a true and lasting peace to be achieved.

May 6, 2019

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The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated Statement on Synagogue Shooting near San Diego

Our hearts are broken to learn of today’s shooting in the midst of Shabbat services at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego.  This attack on a Jewish community during prayer on the final day of the Passover holiday — apparently motivated by anti-Semitism, and on the six-month anniversary of the shootings in Pittsburgh — is the latest example of a horrifying act of violence on a place of worship.

The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated thank our partners in federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as our federal, state and local elected officials, for joining us in their collective commitment to ensuring the safety of our communities. Their response to today’s shooting was immediate and appreciated.

Hate has no place in our society — here, in San Diego, in Sri Lanka, in New Zealand, in South Carolina, in Pittsburgh, or anywhere in the world. We join in mourning and praying for the victims, and we are more committed than ever to working to ensure that people of all faiths are safe in their synagogues, churches, mosques, and other places of worship.

We pledge to continue to combat anti-Semitism as well as other acts and words of hate.

April 27, 2019

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Baltimore Jewish Community Mourns the Death of House Speaker Michael Busch

On behalf of the Baltimore Jewish Community and The Associated, the Baltimore Jewish Council grieves the loss of House Speaker Michael Busch.

Throughout his career, Speaker Busch devoted himself to public service – as an educator, as a delegate, and, since 2003, as the leader of the House of Delegates. Speaker Busch was passionate in his commitment to his constituents and the entire state of Maryland, and he was a consistent champion of our community’s needs, priorities and values.

Throughout our many meetings with Speaker Busch, he regularly demonstrated to us of the important role that his faith played in both his personal and political life.

We extend our deepest condolences to Speaker Busch’s family, and to his colleagues and friends in the General Assembly and state government.

Our state lost a leader today.  May his memory be for a blessing.

April 7, 2019

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Baltimore Jewish Council Condemns Comments of Minnesota Congresswoman

The Baltimore Jewish Council strongly condemns the recent comments of the first-term Congresswoman from Minnesota.

At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, we expect to look to our leaders for moral clarity. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments about the pro-Israel community’s influence, employing an anti-Semitic trope, are unacceptable. And, in her apology, her denigration of those who exercise their right to lobby their elected officials only compounds our concern.

We are deeply appreciative of the loud and swift condemnation issued by the leadership of the House and so many members of our Maryland delegation.

All groups have a right to engage in lobbying and education as a basic part of our American governmental system. In fact, we, the BJC, are proud to be a citizen lobbying organization. We think that we, and others like us, bring great clarity to matters of legislative interest and that political engagement around issues of interest is an important aspect of American democracy.

As an organization committed to combating anti-Semitism, we vow to continue and to expand our efforts to educate and speak out against hate.

February 13, 2019

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Baltimore Jewish Council Statement on Synagogue Shooting in Pittsburgh

The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated are horrified by the shooting that occurred earlier today in the midst of Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This attack on a Jewish community during prayer -motivated by anti-Semitism – is among our greatest fears. We extend our deepest sympathies to the all of the families affected by today’s violence, including those attending services at the Tree of Life Synagogue and the heroic members of law enforcement who responded so quickly.

In the hours after the shooting, we have heard from many of our elected officials and partner law enforcement agencies, reassuring us that our communities and our places of worship are receiving extra vigilance and attention. We thank them for all that they do every day to help protect our neighborhoods and Jewish institutions.

Hate has no place in our society. We pledge to continue to stand in solidarity against anti-Semitism as well as other acts and words of hate. In response to hatred, in a display of solidarity, and to show that we will not be intimidated, we encourage Jews to pray, study and gather in their synagogues and other Jewish communal settings.

All are invited to join us for a memorial gathering and stand against anti-Semitism at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, Sunday October 28, at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, 7401 Park Heights Avenue.

October 27, 2018

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Baltimore Jewish Community Mourns the Death of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

On behalf of the Baltimore Jewish Community and The Associated, the Baltimore Jewish Council grieves the loss of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

For nearly 25 years – first on the Baltimore County Council, and then as the County Executive – Kevin Kamenetz was passionate in his commitment to his constituents and to Baltimore County, Baltimore City and the State of Maryland.

A lifelong Baltimorean, he has been a champion of our community’s needs, priorities and values. Throughout his many appearances at meetings and events in our community, he regularly reminded us of the important role that his faith played in both his personal and political life.

We extend our deepest condolences to Jill, their sons Karson and Dylan, their extended family, and his colleagues and friends in Baltimore County government.  Our community lost a leader this morning.  May his memory be a blessing.

May 7, 2018

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BJC Statement on Jerusalem Announcement

The Baltimore Jewish Council welcomes the Administration’s recognition of the fact that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel.

We hope that the political leadership in Washington, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Arab capitals throughout the world stay the course in seeking an enduring and comprehensive peace.

December 7, 2017

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Baltimore Jewish Council Urges Congressional Action to Protect Young Immigrants

The Baltimore Jewish Council urges Maryland’s federal representatives to join with their colleagues in Congress in approving a permanent program to protect immigrants who were brought into our country as children.

As a Jewish community, this issue is particularly relevant as migration has been a central element of the Jewish experience, from biblical times to modern American-Jewish life with the emigration of Jews to the United States in search of religious freedom and economic opportunity.

For the past five years, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative has allowed over 9,000 young Marylanders to contribute back to their communities. For many of these young people, the United States is the only home they have ever known. Ending this program without a permanent legislative solution risks damaging the lives of these young people, many of whom have families in the United States and are active in their local communities.

It is time for Congress to take action

September 5, 2017

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Baltimore Jewish Community Mourns the Death of Cardinal Keeler

On behalf of the Baltimore Jewish community and The Associated, the Baltimore Jewish Council grieves the loss of Cardinal William H. Keeler.

He was a leader in forging relationships with different faiths, not just here in Baltimore, but nationally and internationally.

The deep and meaningful relationship that Cardinal Keeler developed with Baltimore’s Jewish community earned him much respect and admiration.  He was a genuine friend of the Jewish community, and his work built a foundation for future leaders of the Archdiocese and future leaders of the Jewish community.

Cardinal Keeler will be missed.  May his memory be a blessing.

March 23, 2017

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BJC Statement On Arrest In Connection to Bomb Threats

The Baltimore Jewish Council wishes to acknowledge the hard work and cooperation that culminated in today’s arrest of the suspected perpetrator of many of the bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the United States over the past three months.

We were pained to learn of the Jewish identity of the person arrested, but are gratified that he was apprehended. These threats were crimes of hate and such crimes must be condemned regardless of the perpetrator and regardless of the target.

We hope this arrest closes a disturbing chapter in our collective history.

The Council is particularly thankful for the efforts and support of our law enforcement, elected leadership and community partners throughout this difficult time. We look forward to communicating more fully once we have received and reviewed more information regarding the perpetrator and his motives.

March 23, 2017

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Baltimore Jewish Council Condemns “Muslim Ban” Executive Order

The Baltimore Jewish Council condemns the President’s Executive Order to ban entry of refugees into the United States from a number of majority Muslim nations.

We agree that the United States must be concerned foremost with protecting its own citizens and borders, but believe that this can be achieved through strict enforcement of existing security procedures.

Many Jewish Americans know firsthand the difficulties their relatives endured in trying to escape religious and political persecution abroad and resettle their families to a place where they could live in safety. We know the tragic stories of those who were denied access to the United States due to immigration bans of Jewish refugees in the 1940s.

We believe the United States has a moral and historical obligation to create a welcoming environment for individuals and families looking to start a new life after suffering atrocities in their native countries.

Laws that implicitly target specific religious groups should be avoided to the greatest extent possible, and we stand with our friends and neighbors in the Muslim community who are concerned about the effect this ban will have on refugees suffering violence abroad.

January 28, 2017

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Baltimore Jewish Council Condemns U.S. Abstention on United Nations Security Council Resolution Against Israel

The Baltimore Jewish Council is profoundly disappointed by the decision of the United States to break with established American foreign policy regarding Israel and not block Friday’s one-sided United Nations Security Council resolution.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far more complicated than is implied by this resolution, and it will ultimately be resolved only through direct negotiations.

UN resolutions like the one approved last week — attacking the only democracy of the Middle East and choosing to focus on isolated issues — harm, rather than help, efforts to restart peaceful negotiations, by making it far less likely that the parties will come to the negotiating table.

The BJC believes that the United States’ strong support for its most steadfast democratic ally in the Middle East is both principled and strategic. Unfortunately, the abstention from last week’s UN resolution was neither.

December 26, 2016

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