NEW YORK, NY – Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) released the following statement today applauding South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem who signed an executive order last week affirming the state’s support for and solidarity with the Jewish people, and endorsing the state’s use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as a tool for identifying and speaking out against antisemitism. Today’s action builds on Governor Noem’s 2020 executive order expressing support for Israel and condemning antisemitism.
“Jewish communities in the United States, no matter how big or small, are facing an incredible surge of violence and intimidation. Hadassah applauds Governor Noem’s leadership in combating antisemitism and recognizing the importance of tools like the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism for use by state officials. Her executive orders are a clarion call for our shared values of tolerance, respect, and understanding,” said HWZOA National President Rhoda Smolow. “Hadassah is grateful to its advocates in the state, including National Board Member Carol Rosenthal and her husband, Stephen - an associate member of HWZOA - for spearheading the effort to raise awareness of the risk antisemitism poses to South Dakotans. Their success is our success, and we are grateful for their commitment to advancing our priorities and values in their home state and region,” said Smolow.
Speaking after the executive order was signed, Carol Rosenthal pointed to the state’s positive trajectory in reducing the threat. “South Dakota is an outlier in the fight against antisemitism. While the number of antisemitic hate crime incidents reported by state and local officials to the FBI rose by six percent from 2019 to 2020, the figure fell in Mount Rushmore State by 15 percent over the same period,” she said. “Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant. It is critically important for our elected leaders to maintain their awareness and build stronger opposition to antisemitism in all its forms. My husband Stephen and I are grateful to Governor Noem, and in awe of the impact Hadassah advocates can have on our cities and states.”
Hadassah is a proud partner member of Shine A Light, a national initiative to spotlight antisemitism through education, community partnerships, workplace engagement, and community advocacy. To learn more about antisemitism including its origins, historical and modern manifestations, and ways to stand up against hatred, please visit the Shine A Light website by clicking here.