Three U.S. Senators jointly announced on June 9, at the 2021 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum, the launch of the bipartisan Senate Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations. Formation of the caucus comes amidst a rise in hate crimes directed toward minority communities across the United States, and a renewed commitment to bringing Blacks and Jews together, not just in the halls of the Capitol but on the streets of America.
“We are going to show real leadership on this issue,” said Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada, who was joined by Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Cory Booker of New Jersey at the AJC Global Forum as the co-founders of the new caucus. Manya Brachear Pashman, co-host of AJC’s People of the Pod podcast, moderated the conversation.
“Black Americans are targeted for their race. Jewish Americans are most targeted for their religion. We have to stop this,” Rosen declared. “When we stand shoulder to shoulder and say enough is enough, that’s when the healing process of change begins.”
The mission of the Senate Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations is to raise awareness of each community’s challenges and needs around the country, to confront antisemitism, racism, and bigotry and to bring Black and Jewish communities together.
Creation of the Senate caucus comes two years after the bipartisan House Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations was launched at the 2019 AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C.
Senators Booker, Rosen, and Scott are very active in their faiths and, in front of the Global Forum’s worldwide audience they often referred to their houses of worship, citing Jewish and Christian biblical passages when speaking about their own lifelong involvement with Black-Jewish relations.
“In many ways, Blacks and Jews have been a very strong conscience of this entire country, helping this nation to live up to its democratic ideals,” said Booker. “Our communities have a history of working to make this country see its truth, its beauty, its wonder, and I’m just excited to be in partnership with this coalition.”
“The Black community should be as outspoken against hate in the Jewish community as anybody else,” said Scott. “Having felt the sting and the dehumanization of that hatred, we should speak out when we see hatred and attacks on our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Whether the attacks are in New York, or in the Middle East against Israel, we should be “loud and clear about our stand.”
Booker noted that he and Scott were the first Black senators to visit the Jewish state, “to show a Black commitment to the State of Israel.”
“During the civil rights movement, Black and Jewish Americans came together to fight racism, antisemitism, hate, and bigotry,” said Rosen. Now, the new Caucus will “show leadership by getting together with our communities, allies, and partners around the country, our faith-based leaders and other community leaders to talk about education, to have common conversations,” to band together “for social action and social justice.”
Scott also spoke about the longstanding strong relationships between the African American and Jewish communities in South Carolina, where a program called Operation Understanding has been bringing together high school students. “It’s those seeds that have been sown in South Carolina that makes us such a strong place to see positive, healthy, encouraging relationships.”
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