Miami Beach

‘Pressing the alarm button’: Miami Beach rally to target global anti-Semitism

The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, site of Sunday’s protest.
The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, site of Sunday’s protest. Miami Herald File

Synagogues were torched, Jewish homes were vandalized and storefronts were destroyed. The year was 1938, and the anti-Semitic attacks that took place on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 later came to be known as Kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass.”

Jacob Solomon is careful not to overextend the comparison, but parallels, he says, can be drawn between then and now.

Various institutions across the world have reported a spike in anti-Semitic incidents, and Solomon, president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, says it is time to call attention to it.

Hundreds of people are expected to gather at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach on Sunday to protest worldwide anti-Semitism, as well as commemorate the 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht, at a rally dubbed “Never Again.”

“Rather than sit quietly and hope for a happy ending, we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Holocaust Memorial chair Andrew Hall, who calls the rally “a call to conscience.” “We’re pressing that alarm button because it’s time to be alarmed, speak out and express ourselves that we’re going to be vigilant of the rights of Jews around the world.”

The Anti-Defamation League labeled 2014 a “particularly violent year for Jews” in the United States, reporting a 21 percent rise in Jewish hate crimes. Europe lacks systematic data collection, but at least three institutions — the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Amadeu Antonio Foundation and the Jewish Community Protection Service — pinpointed significant increases in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, Great Britain and France, where four Jews were held hostage and killed in a kosher supermarket in January 2014.

Anti-Semitism never really died, it was just kept in the closet.

Norman Braman, co-founder of the Holocaust Memorial

Solomon said there is “a sense of collective responsibility” across South Florida because its Jewish community — the 11th largest in the country — is so diverse.

“As a foreign community, we have a particular sensitivity to the condition of Jews throughout the world,” he said. “There is a sense of Jewish peoplehood that causes us to come to the aid of Jews no matter where they live and no matter what the circumstances.”

With churches among the rally’s sponsors, as well as appearances by U.S. Sens Bill Nelson, D-Fla. and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the gathering demonstrates that solidarity extends beyond religious affiliation or even political ideology.

“We will be proactive as much as we possibly can be so the words ‘never again’ are not just a slogan,” Solomon said. “If we let these things go on unprotested, we’re complicit in allowing the world to go down this dark path once again.”

Related stories from Miami Herald