By Steve Gold, Chair, Jewish Federation of Rockland County Community Relations Council
Rockland County is at a crossroads. Its residents and government officials must consider how the county can move forward united and for the betterment of all. Currently, Rockland is facing a crisis of divisiveness that is causing people to forego the essential behaviors of common sense, dialogue and tolerance.
We need to address the issues – whether they are ensuring a fair and equal education for all our children, or enforcing building codes to protect the lives of tenants and first-responders. We must take steps to correct the problems and not point fingers or throw out insults and innuendos. We will find we are stronger as a community than if we are split into hostile factions.
Much of the vitriol is anti-Semitic and it is not being whispered. It is very public and appears on blogs and in comments posted online. It is thinly disguised on some of the political campaign mailers sent throughout our county. But has anyone put forward a realistic approach to solving the problems, or it is just easier to blame others?
Instead of casting blame, we can work to make Rockland better by getting involved. Residents can:
- Volunteer to become a member of a community group that helps people across our county
- Question the political candidates and press them for their positions and specific actions if elected to office. Do not let them hurl insults at each other; demand better of them
- Raise your voice – not with anger but with a vote at the polls on Tuesday, November 3
- Encourage others to vote and young people to register
- Attend council and board meetings and speak up
While some of this may sound simplistic, the reality is that if we do not talk to each other and hear each other’s points of view, the tensions will increase.
The Jewish Federation of Rockland County has a mission of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world through acts of kindness. We do this through a network of overseas partners and by providing grants to local agencies, to get help where it’s needed most. Here in Rockland we provide Jewish learning opportunities to people of all faiths and we support residents facing hardships through Rockland Jewish Family Service. We send free books and music to Rockland’s Jewish children and provide free programming and events to inform and inspire the entire community. We do this to strengthen our county, and we call on our neighbors to make Rockland a better place through kindness instead of hostility; through learning instead of ignorance.