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speaker with audienceAt Temple Israel Center in White Plains, nearly 800 attendees came out for “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 Jan.10 event was presented by UJA-Federation of New York in Westchester in collaboration with Westchester Jewish Council.

Westchester County District Attorney, Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. opened the program and shared insights into the work the District Attorney’s Office does to create a safer and more secure community.

He told the audience he is “still reeling from the vicious attack in a rabbi’s home where congregants were celebrating Hanukkah in Rockland County. It should have been a joyful celebration. Instead, it ended in tragedy. As the news broke of the attack on the Monsey congregation, I reached out to this group to remind you my office is here to support you and help protect you. That was before we knew whether the violence was an isolated incident or something more complex. But even now, we are mindful it was part of a pattern of anti-Semitic violence in our region.”

DA Scarpino explained how the Westchester Intelligence Center (WIC), a unit of the DA’s office, staffed with analysts and criminal investigators, was immediately in contact with NYS Police and went on alert. Our Chief Criminal Investigator Chris McNerney and the Acting Director of the WIC Andrew Ludlum lead our work during this time of heightened concern and our on-going commitment to protecting the community.

The WIC engages year-round in hate crime/hate speech intelligence-gathering through partnerships with the US Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security, the NYS Police, NYPD and others. The WIC has a continuing partnership with the Westchester Jewish Council Security Committee, along with a trusted partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and maintain membership in its regional law enforcement advisory council.

DA Scarpino also explained how the DA’s Office Hate Crimes Unit works with local police to charge and prosecute hate crimes, and, under the leadership of Assistant District Attorney Susan Brownbill-Vega, educates schools and community groups to help prevent bias incidents in the County. The Office is a co-sponsor with the Westchester-based Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) conference for educators to give them the tools they need to teach about race and racism and its consequences.
DA Scarpino was followed by Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who provided historical context about anti-Semitism, reminding the audience that anti-Semitism is not new–simply 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 initiatives the UJA-Federation is undertaking to combat anti-Semitism including making a major investment in new security experts and staffing as part of the organization and is strengthening community relations efforts with non-Jewish groups.

If organizations are interested in a presentation on NYS hate crimes law and tolerance in society, they may contact the District Attorney’s Community Outreach office at (914) 995-3317.

scarpinospeakers

 

Pictured above from left to right: Mark Weitzman (Simon Wiesenthal Center), Audrey Stein, (UJA-Federation), Hindy Poupko (UJA-Federation), Elliot Forchheimer (Westchester Jewish Council), DA Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr.

 

Photos by Michael Priest Photography.