Several months after Jews in Anchorage, Alaska experienced a collective hate crime when swastikas were placed on the Alaska Jewish Museum, the Jewish community hosted a solidarity event to combat hate on Sunday.
The “Jewish Family Festival” was billed as a day of “Unity, Solidarity and Pride” that also included a Torah scroll inauguration ceremony.
“As you know, several months ago we suffered a hate crime of swastika stickers placed on the Jewish Museum building. This act was condemned in the strongest way by our senators, government officials, community leaders and our fellow Alaskans,” said Alaska Jewish Campus & Museum in a statement. “We were grateful of the outpouring of love and concern which was expressed by endless calls, emails and letters of solidarity and support stating that this is not what Anchorage and Alaska is all about.”
The organization added, “Our response to the hate crimes is a day of Jewish unity, solidarity, and pride where all citizens of Anchorage are invited to join us and show their support of the Jewish community in a fun and positive way.”
At the event, the inauguration of the Alaska Jewish community’s new Torah scroll took place, with a Torah scribe writing the last letters of the scroll.
“From the dawn of Jewish history, the Torah scroll was the most precious article which has been passed on from generation to generation. For thousands of years, everywhere Jews have travelled, the Torah came along with them and served as their compass, helping them navigate between countries, cultures and exiles,” said Alaska Jewish Campus.
In late May, a tall, thin man wearing a hood and a mask was caught on a security camera plastering Nazi stickers on the Alaska Jewish Museum.
Each white sticker was emblazoned with a black swastika. Written above and below the swastika were the words, “WE ARE EVERYWHERE.”
The incident in Anchorage followed a spate of anti-Semitic attacks in the US, with incidents in May reaching historic levels.
Weeks later, a city councillor in Seward, Alaska issued a public apology after referring to negotiating a more favourable price as “Jew them down.”