Nearly 800 members of the Westchester community attended “Anti-Semitism: What We Face and How We Fight It,” a discussion about the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and abroad, and Westchester’s efforts to combat hatred. The event, presented by UJA-Federation of New York in Westchester, in collaboration with Westchester Jewish Council, took place on Wednesday, January 8, at Temple Israel Center in White Plains.
Cindy Golub of Mamaroneck, UJA Regional Chair, welcomed the attendees, and Arlene Kleinberg of New Rochelle, UJA Westchester Annual Campaign Chair, introduced the evening’s guest speakers. The program featured three experts who provided insight into the rise of anti-Semitism and what is being done to address the challenge.
Westchester District Attorney, Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. opened the program and shared insights into the work that his office does to create a safer and more secure community. The Westchester Intelligence Center, a unit of the DA’s office, ensures hate crimes are prosecuted appropriately and justice is served. Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center provided historical context about anti-Semitism, reminding the audience that anti-Semitism is not new – we are simply seeing the growth of what has always been present.
Hindy Poupko, Deputy Chief Planning Officer at UJA-Federation of New York concluded the formal remarks with an overview of the many initiatives that UJA-Federation is undertaking to combat anti-Semitism including making a major investment in security. “We are embarking on a new, multi-million-dollar effort to engage in a wholesale upgrade of our community security infrastructure”, said Poupko. This includes the hiring of former NYPD director of intelligence analysis, Mitchell Silber, as UJA’s new Community Security Director to lead a team of five locally based security directors. In addition, a new position will support the specific security needs of Jewish day and residential camps.
Beyond enhancing security, UJA is strengthening community relations efforts with non-Jewish groups, advocating for critical government support, helping organizations access government security funding and empowering college students with tools to engage in healthy discourse about Israel on campus.
The program concluded with the speakers responding to questions submitted by the audience.