Saperstein: “All violent crimes are reprehensible, but hate crimes rend the fabric of society and fragment communities.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2009 — The House Judiciary Committee today marked up the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would enhance federal involvement against hate crimes where necessary and authorize the prosecution of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism joined a wide coalition of national organizations in calling for the passage of this legislation, which the House of Representatives is expected to vote on next week. The coalition’s statement can be found here. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement:
As Jews, we cherish the biblical commandment found in Leviticus 19:17: ‘You shall not hate another in your heart.’ We know all too well the dangers of unchecked persecution and of failing to recognize hate crimes for what they are: acts designed to target and terrorize an entire community. All violent crimes are reprehensible, but hate crimes rend the fabric of society and fragment communities.
By providing federal officials the authority to investigate and prosecute cases in which violence occurs because of victims’ real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or disability, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will significantly strengthen federal response to these horrific crimes.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.