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Kentucky becomes first state to recognize IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:14 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Earlier this week, both the House and the Senate in Kentucky passed resolutions condemning anti-Semitism.

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin with Chabad of the Bluegrass says Kentucky is the first state to recognize it’s proper definition.

“Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest hatred, anti-Semitism a word that traces back to Germany in the 1880s,” Rabbi Litvin says.

Anti-Semitism’s working definition according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance: A perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.

“Anti-Semitism has always been a language of radicals, radicals on the left, radicals on the right, fascists, socialists, anarchists,” Rabbi Litvin says.

It’s something Rabbi Litvin experiences too often. This past November, the sign outside the Chabad house was damaged for the fourth time in 5 years. In December of last year, a driver shouting slurs ran over a man at a menorah lighting ceremony at the Chabad house. In January, dozens of stickers were put up around downtown Lexington with what Rabbi Litvin says were links to racist and anti-Semitic drivel.

“I don’t think what we’ve seen here in Lexington is a Kentucky issue, it’s an American, it’s a global issue,” Rabbi Litvin says.

Now, the Rabbi says Kentucky put its best foot forward. It’s become the first state in the US to recognize the proper definition of anti-Semitism.

The Rabbi opened Kentucky’s general assembly with prayer. It was the first time a Rabbi opened both the house and the senate at the same time.

For Rabbi Litvin, it seems the work is just getting started.

“The key to speaking out is not to speak out after a violent attack where someone’s leg gets run over or when a sign gets run over even, but to speak out in the beginning when people say words of hate, which is why defining anti-Semitism is so important,” Rabbi Litvin says.

Looking ahead, Rabbi Litvin says he hopes all states follow Kentucky’s lead and recognize the proper definition of anti-Semitism.

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