MORRIS COUNTY — More than 350 Morris County residents participated in a “Community Rally Against Hate,” joining together with the Morris County Board of Freeholders, Morris County Sheriff and Prosecutor, the state Attorney General and religious leaders from across Morris County in a special forum held at the Gottesman RTW Academy in Randolph, on Thursday, January 9.
The crowd, clergy and political and law enforcement officials stood united against the hatred and bigotry that recently has targeted the Jewish community and other faiths in our state and nation.
Emceed by Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, the event featured a wide array of messages from a leaders from across the state and region, including New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Freeholder Director Deborah Smith and Freeholder John Krickus, and Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp
Video messages were sent by Rep. Mikie Sherrill and state Sen. Anthony Bucco, who were in legislative sessions in Washington and Trenton on Thursday, January 9.
It also included the following religious leaders: Rabbi Levi Dubinsky of the Chabad Center of Mountain Lakes, Boonton, and Denville; Basel Hamdeh of Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center, Boonton; Rev. Herman Scott of Calvary Baptist Church, Morristown; Chandu Bhoraniya, devotee of B.A.P.S. Swaminarayan Mandir, Parsippany; Rabbi Mendy Herson, Rabbinical College of America, Morristown; and Moshe Vaknon, Head of School, Gottesman RTW Academy, Randolph.
Students from the Gottesman RTW Academy offered songs during the event, including the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah. Along with Moshe Vaknin, they led a closing song that featured clergy and community leaders singing, hand-in-hand and arm-in-arm.
Freeholder Director Smith made the following statement: “On behalf of the entire Morris County Board of Freeholders, I thank you and welcome you for being here at this important event. We are dealing with a wave of anti-Semitism and hate-crime attacks against religious institutions across our nation.
“The attack in Jersey City. The horrible event in Monsey, N.Y. The shooting at a Christian church in Texas. And so many more. Even here in Morris County, a Menorah recently was vandalized in a public space in Mendham.
“As a community, we cannot accept this behavior. I can tell you as a leader of county government, and a woman of the Jewish faith, that here in Morris County that we will not ignore it. We will not hide from it. We must confront it. And we will.
“All of our residents must be able to live their lives in our county, state and nation without fear of being harassed or persecuted for their personal and religious beliefs. That is a basic tenet of our democracy. Nothing is more sacred in America.
“So today, we stand as a countywide community in solidarity with our Jewish neighbors and other religions, and we reject hate with one clear voice from all of the people of Morris County.
In the wake of recent attacks, the freeholders reached out to county law enforcement and religious leaders to explore a possible county response, and are asking members of faith-based communities across the county and the general public to join in standing up against hatred, violence and bigotry.