Sacha Roytman Dratwa, Bruce and Connie Meyer, Governor Glenn Youngkin, and Adam Beren
Sacha Roytman Dratwa, Bruce and Connie Meyer, Governor Glenn Youngkin, and Adam BerenBrian Callan / Thirty Three Photography

On Monday, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) wrapped up the first-ever state-focused summit to combat antisemitism.

The two-day Virginia Summit to Combat Antisemitism brought together leading decision-makers and activists from across the state to address common challenges and best practices in the collective effort to combat antisemitism. On Monday morning, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin addressed the summit and received the CAM Annual Civic Leadership Award for his dedication to fighting antisemitism and religious bigotry of all forms.

“The work in front of us is to undo so much of the hate that has become embedded in our culture and our society today,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We owe it to our future to stand strong in this moment, to stand together in this moment.”

“Silence will give an indication that antisemitism is somehow to be tolerated," former Virginia Governor George Allen said. "Antisemitism in Virginia is contrary to the first freedom, the freedom of religion. We have the opportunity as Virginians, as Americans, to show unity."

The summit kicked off on Sunday night with an opening gala dinner highlighted by remarks by President of Israel Isaac Herzog, testimonies of October 7th survivors and rescuers, and tributes to the US Armed Forces, celebrating its partnership with the Israel Defense Forces and their joint commitment to defending democracy.

"The fight against antisemitism is not just a fight to protect Jewish communities, it is a fight to protect our shared values of freedom, liberty, and democracy, as laid down by the great Thomas Jefferson,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Attendees also heard directly from a Virginia Tech student leader about the state of antisemitism at universities, as part of a panel entitled, "Free Speech or Hate Speech? Addressing the Crisis on Campus.”

"One of the biggest challenges for Jewish students this year is feeling and being isolated," Virginia Tech student leader Vivian Cohen said. "But even though Jewish students right now are tired, we are not defeated. We will continue to proudly express our identities on campus."

Other highlights of the summit’s programming included a "Catalysts of Compassion: Turning Hate into Action" panel, with reformed neo-Nazi and Islamist extremist sharing their transformative experiences, an "Interfaith Allies: The Power of Coalitions” panel with speakers of diverse religious backgrounds discussing their work countering bigotry, and the unveiling of a “Righteous Amongst the Nations” mural honoring the late Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds for his courageous actions during WWII.

In addition to Governor Youngkin, other prominent speakers at the summit included Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earl-Sears, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Connie Meyer, Legislative Chair of the Virginia Commission to Combat Antisemitism.

"Never again means never again," Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia Winsome Sears said. "Israel cannot wait for others to come and save her - Israel cannot wait for someone who will intervene and give her justice."

"In a world that often feels divided, it is our collective responsibility to stand against hate in all of its forms," Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said. "Let us use this occasion as a call to action. We can build a future where hate is not just condemned, but eradicated."

"My pledge to you is to use every resource in my office to combat the scourge of antisemitism," said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares. "America loves Israel because America loves what is good. I'm honored to be in the trenches with you."

“We commend Virginia leaders for coming together to commit to action to ensure that antisemitism has no place in the commonwealth,” said CAM CEO Sacha Roytman. “Change starts on the local level, and this summit is a key step in establishing the necessary dialogue to tackle antisemitism effectively.”