NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To take an active stand against increasing episodes of racism and antisemitism in our country, leaders from the Black and Jewish communities joined together to host a celebration of the 15 Days of Light. This event jointly celebrated Chanukah and Kwanzaa in a unifying holiday ceremony on Sunday, December 18, 2022, at Carnegie Hall, in New York City. Leaders from both the Black and Jewish communities spoke throughout the night to reflect on the deep ties that have long existed between both groups, as well as the importance of supporting each other in these national moments of racial and religious tension.
“The night was electrifying,” said Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Founder and CEO of the World Values Network. “Top Black leaders like New York City Mayor Eric Adams; Robert F. Smith, America’s foremost Black philanthropist; and the Reverend Al Sharpton, each lit a Menorah to celebrate Chanukah and stand with the Jewish community amid a national explosion of antisemitism. And highly committed Jewish leaders—among them Marion and Elisha Wiesel and many Rabbis and activists—joined to fight racism and stand with our Black brothers and sisters against hate. This is the way it should be. Blacks and Jews united to promote human dignity and fight the haters.”
“Social media is having a major impact on the hatred that we are seeing in our city and in this country. It is time for us to be more responsible about the hate that is being spread online. We should bring social media companies to the table to highlight the racist and antisemitic words being spread on their platforms,” said Eric Adams, mayor of New York City. “The greatest challenge we have in front of us is that we have become silent. And when you come together like this and say we refuse to be silent, we have an open display of how much we need each other and how much we can build a unified community. If we stand up here in New York, it will cascade throughout the entire country.”
“There is never a time more needed than now for Blacks and Jews to remember the struggle that we've gone through. You can't fight for anybody if you don't fight for everybody,” said Reverend Al Sharpton. “I cannot fight for Black rights if I don't fight for Jewish rights and other rights, because then it becomes a matter of self-aggrandizement rather than fighting for humanity. It's easy for Blacks to stand up for racism. It's easy for Jews to stand up to antisemitism. But if you want to really be a leader, you got to speak as a Black against antisemitism and antisemites, and you got to speak as a Jew against racism.”
This initiative is part of a national campaign to dispel the darkness of racism and antisemitism in America. At the event, speakers called for Americans to join them in a coast-to-coast display of unity to dispel the darkness of racism and antisemitism for the 15 nights of Chanukah and Kwanzaa. These Black and Jewish leaders are urging individuals across the country to post photos of their own Black and Jewish friends, neighbors, and colleagues coming together to #lightthecandles on their social media.
"The Black and Jewish communities have always been connected in parallel struggles, fighting to be accepted for our cultures and beliefs,” said Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. “When we unify the souls of our two communities, we can usher in light to banish the darkness of racism, bigotry, and antisemitism. Every one of us plays a role in deciding what America will be and who we will become as one nation. And through our unity, we have the power to uplift communities and our nation and create a more harmonious and inclusive society which not merely accepts but celebrates differences.”
“The Wiesel family stands now and will always stand with the Black community against racism and the lingering economic effects of slavery and segregation in this country,” said Elisha Wiesel, the son of renowned Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Elie Wiesel. “And we are so moved to hear leaders in the Black community like Mayor Adams, Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Tillard and Robert Smith speak out so strongly against antisemitism. We are grateful because the Jewish people are under attack from all sides. White supremacists on the right blame Jews for the dethroning of the white man and kill us in Pittsburgh and Poway while slaughtering innocent Black supermarket shoppers in Buffalo. The Israel-hating extreme left tries to drive a wedge between our communities with the lie that Jews are racist oppressors; Jews get beaten up in Los Angeles and Times Square. And the crazies say we’re not even Jews—leading to a stabbing in Monsey, a shooting in Jersey City, and endless beatings in Brooklyn. This Chanukah and Kwanzaa, let our communities show we stand ready to learn about and learn from each other, while holding proud to our traditions and values. We encourage you to join together and #lightthecandles with us.”