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Reform Jewish Movement Observes Holocaust Remembrance Day, Condemns Recent Wave Of Anti-Semitism In Toronto And Montreal

Contact:Alexis Rice or Zach Rosenberg
202.387.2800

Saperstein: The recent desecration of Jewish homes and cemeteries in Toronto and the firebombing of a Jewish elementary school in Montreal are evidence that North America in the 21st Century is not immune to the kind of hatred that plagued the Jewish communities of Europe more than half a century ago.

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2004 - As Jews around the world commemorate Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

As we commemorate the more than six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis, we are reminded that, even today, anti-Semitism remains a threat to the Jewish community and the civilized world at large. All people of conscience should mobilize to combat such hatred.

The recent desecration of Jewish homes and cemeteries in Toronto and the firebombing of a Jewish elementary school in Montreal are evidence that even North America in the 21st Century is not immune to the kind of hatred that plagued the Jewish communities of Europe more than half a century ago.

The firebombing of United Talmud Torah's library on the eve of Passover was reminiscent of the burning of Jewish institutions in 1930s Germany. The destructive act, targeting an elementary school, was nothing less than a hate crime meant to instill fear amongst members of the Jewish community. Likewise, the recent painting of swastikas on Jewish homes in Toronto's suburb of Scarborough and the defilement of gravestones in Toronto's oldest Jewish cemetery were intended to intimidate Canadian Jewry. Yet the Jewish community has stood strongly united with the larger Canadian community in condemnation of these pernicious acts of violence. The North American Reform Jewish Movement stands proudly as part of this coalition of decency.

We applaud the efforts of legislators and community leaders on the federal, provincial, state and local levels who are seeking to combat anti-Semitism and all other forms of hate crimes. As members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe prepare to meet in Berlin at the end of April to discuss the problem of anti-Semitism in Europe, we must continue to combat ignorance and anti-Semitism here at home.

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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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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