Most effective way to combat antisemitism is through education

Two people who spoke about antisemitism at the Keene Valley Congregational Church this past Sunday, when asked what non-Jewish people could do to combat hatred against Jews, both pointed to education as crucial.

“Education is one of the keys to stopping all hate and bias,” said Sue Semegram, president of the Lake Placid Synagogue.

Despite New York consistently topping the list of states with the highest volume of reported incidents of antisemitism, here in the Adirondacks, incidents of antisemitism are much rarer.

The Anti-Defamation League has recorded four antisemitic incidents within the Adirondack Park since 2002. But just because there were no reports made to the ADL does not mean they do not happen here. We should believe local Jewish people when they share their experiences of living in our communities.

“In a wonderful community like Lake Placid, we do find antisemitism in very subtle ways,” Semegram said. “Some of the things are said behind our backs, unfortunately. It exists, we know it exists. As such, we’re scared.”

It saddens us to know that there are members of our communities who do not feel completely safe to be who they are and to practice their religion.

One of the four people who spoke on antisemitism in Keene Valley on Sunday was Tom Glaser, the son of two Holocaust survivors who shared heart-wrenching stories about his family during World War II.

In New York, teachers are required to teach children about the Holocaust. But in Vermont, where Glaser lives, that’s not mandatory. That’s why the Vermont Holocaust Memorial Group, which Glaser is a part of, provides workshops to educate children and help teachers lead discussions. The group hopes to get lawmakers to pass legislation making education about the Holocaust mandatory.

“As far as adults are concerned, antisemitism needs to be addressed when it is encountered,” Glaser said. “If it is not addressed it can and will escalate.”

We agree. In a time when many of us are feeling more and more disconnected from one another, education, understanding history and open dialogue are crucial to breaking down whatever misconceptions or miscommunications may seek to divide us. The open dialogue at the Keene Valley church is a great start.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today