The Pembroke Pines Commission recently passed the COVID-19 anti-hate resolution in response to the increase of anti-Semitic and anti-Asian hate speech amid the pandemic.
According to a study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the fear and uncertainty that arose from COVID-19 has incentivized another pandemic: anti-Semitism.
For this reason, the ADL has reached state and local governments across the country, urging officials to pass resolutions denouncing “anti-Semitism, anti-Asian, hateful speech, violent action, and spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19.”
Last month, Commissioner Jay Schwartz sponsored the implementation of the resolution during the city commission meeting.
“The city of Pembroke Pines is a member of the ADL task force and that allows us to keep abreast of issues like these,” said Schwartz. “We bring awareness to the issue.”
Pembroke Pines has four synagogues. Schwartz, who is Jewish, said the city commission is committed to making sure the community feels secure when attending services and participating in events.
“We lead by example. The goal of our city is to lead by example not only in words, but in actions. If a crime is committed, we will seek full prosecution of those individuals,” he said.
The city has taken a proactive approach to the issue, partnering with the ADL in recent years to perform security trainings with the Jewish institutions to ensure safety.
“For religious institutions, security needs to be a part of the culture and mindset. We work with the executive directors of synagogues, the directors of organizations, and other religious institutions. We partner with the local law enforcement to make sure that these institutions have their security needs met, know the current issues, and have good relationships with their local law enforcement,” said Lonny Wilk, ADL Florida’s senior associate regional director.
Rabbi Mordechai Andruiser of the Chabad of Pembroke Pines said he is thankful Pembroke Pines is a safe city.
“I have never reached the point where I felt the need to go to the (commission). We have had people yell things and run away, but I have never gotten the officials involved,” he said.
Andruiser added that although there have been challenges due to the pandemic, his community has continued its outreach programs, such as bringing food to people in the hospitals and police officers.
“We are trying to be a positive force in the community, we are trying to help people. That has pretty much been our mission from the get-go,” he said, adding they have not experienced any anti-Semitic incidents.
The city officials say want to continue bringing awareness to the issue.
“A resolution is a position statement. So, I will continue to pass resolutions that bring awareness to the issue. Being Jewish myself, I’ve experienced anti-Semitism my entire life. So, it is easy for me to recognize it,” said Schwartz.
The ADL and the city commission encourage anyone that is a witness or victim to a hate crime directed towards the Jewish community to report it.
“We encourage people to report anti-Semitic incidents to us or law enforcement when necessary, because we cannot properly address or respond to what we don’t know about,” said Wilk.
The ADL has an online reporting tool that they urge people to use to report any incidents, in order to offer their resources and assist victims.