I am thrilled to be spending my first Rosh Hashanah in Atlanta, a community that embodies everything that ADL is: a place with a fierce commitment and history of civil rights leadership, a strong Jewish community that is committed to justice and inclusivity, and a city of innovation, growth and rich diversity.
What an incredible moment in our country to be digging in with ADL, and I could not be prouder of our work standing up to hate right now.
The world was in shock over the public, emboldened display of anti-Semitism and hatred from extremists in Charlottesville. Hearing “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” proudly and arrogantly chanted from the streets of a great American city is hard to reconcile or believe is reality in 2017.
ADL worked tirelessly to prepare the local community and law enforcement for the Unite the Right rally ahead of time, and our Center on Extremism was in overdrive monitoring and responding to the largest and most violent gathering of white supremacists in decades.
We were on the ground in Charlottesville and have been on the ground in other cities across the country as residual white supremacist and extremist events are planned. Our strategies focus on several angles.
First, we continue to monitor hate-filled extremists and equip law enforcement and community partners with the resources and intelligence they need to come together and stand up to those extremists. We are seeing law enforcement prepared for ensuring public safety and communities across the country unified to create a counternarrative of love and inclusivity.
ADL continues to educate others about extremism, and our Hate Symbols Database is being widely referenced and sought after. Unfortunately, it is a time when we all need to know what we are standing up against.
That is why we have decided to focus ADL’s annual Community of Respect event in Atlanta in November on responses to extremism and white supremacy. We will hear from Rabbi Francine Roston of Whitefish, Mont., who tells an amazing and heroic story of courage and Jewish values in the face of anti-Semitism. We will learn the various approaches to standing up to extremism from experts in the field and how we can be advocates against hate, even when the attacks are direct.
The hatred is not limited to specific extremist events. We have seen many anti-Semitic incidents in K-12 schools in the region, as students learn to navigate and translate the ugly, emboldened hatred they see on the news of Charlottesville.
Immediately after Charlottesville, ADL created and consolidated our education resources for schools and families. These empowering materials help teachers guide conversations with their students on Charlottesville and white supremacy and help parents talk about things with their families during dinner table conversations.
The resources are available free on our website, and I encourage everyone to check them out at www.adl.org/education-and-resources.
Locally, our anti-bias trainings are in extremely high demand. We are seeing a renewed interest in and investment by our schools to dive deeply into guided conversations about hatred and inclusivity. These conversations are also valuable for the workplace and with community groups, and demand for our resources and support there is growing as well.
Now is the time for us all to stand up and speak out against hate. We need safe, inclusive environments in our schools. We need a comprehensive hate-crimes statute to ensure that hate crimes are given the full attention they deserve so that communities feel safe. We need to declare our region and our community No Place for Hate.
That’s why — very soon — we will be announcing an exciting, regionwide No Place for Hate day, when everyone can publicly pronounce a commitment to fighting hatred and bigotry and creating a positive, productive movement toward love and inclusivity. Stay tuned.
I can’t imagine a better way to start the new year than to come together in unity. L’shana tova.
Allison Padilla-Goodman is the new Southeast regional director of ADL.