Annual AJC Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast Stands Fast Against Hate Crimes
By Stephen E. Lipken
American Jewish Committee Westchester/Fairfield (AJC) held its 21st annual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast on Thursday, November 17th at the SUNY Westchester Community College, the first time held in person since 2019. Event sponsors included AJC Westchester/Fairfield, (Founding Sponsor), SUNY Westchester Community College and Westchester Jewish Council (WJC).
“We are honored that today, over 110 partners, representing our diverse faiths, ethnic, religious and political communities and over 300 participants from every walk of life are all joining together in non-partisan fashion to stand together to celebrate the strength of our diverse communities,” AJC Regional Director Myra Clark Siegel stated.
Speakers included Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Stamford, CT Mayor Caroline Simmons.
In line of a 42% increase of Anti-Semitism in Connecticut in 2021, with anti-Semitic incidents of vandalism and harassment against 34 Jewish people in the State, Simmons oversaw the signing of a Proclamation, adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as well as introducing mandatory Holocaust and Genocide education in all Connecticut Public Schools. The Connecticut Legislature increased hate crime penalties from a misdemeanor to a felony.
“There are 71 different languages in our State, people who come from all faiths and backgrounds. This diversity is our greatest source of pride and strength,” Simmons said.
Latimer stressed that the most important factor is the people of the County. “That is the ‘we’ in Westchester and we must find ways to work together.”
“Thanksgiving Season is a time for celebration but also reflection and resolution,” NYS Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado stated, acknowledging the rise of anti-Jewish, Black, Asian and anti-gay sentiment. “Hate crimes are happening at Houses of Worship where people come together in faith, in the spirit of love,” Delgado averred, noting that his wife is Black-Jewish, and his children are being raised Jewish. Delgado visited the Western Wall, Israel in 2019.
“The strongest part of what we do is to once again create dialogue,” NYS Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins remarked, referring to the discussion tables. She pointed to people experiencing anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia and struggles with COVID.