The Jan. 6 rally against anti-Semitism at City Springs in Sandy Springs served as an example of how the community can come together in the face of adversity, one leader said.
“I saw Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists,” Mayor Rusty Paul said of the event co-hosted by five Jewish organizations. “It was a very diverse community of people and it accomplished what I hoped it would accomplish, which was showing the full community support for the fight against hate and anti-Semitism. Based on the reports I got via email and social media, I didn’t get a single complaint. Everybody was extremely positive. Originally it was going to be at the (Atlanta) Jewish Academy, but they ran out (of space). It wasn’t our event. We were just helping host it.”
Paul and members of the Sandy Springs City Council talked about the rally, also known as the Jewish Atlanta Solidarity Event, at the council’s Jan. 7 meeting at City Springs.
The rally was co-hosted by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Atlanta Rabbinical Association, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and came after recent attacks on services and events at Jewish synagogues, temples and homes worldwide.
Paul said about 2,000 residents attended the event, which included seating in the Byers Theatre, Studio Theatre and Byers Theatre lobby.
The rally came a day after the New York Solidarity March, which took place in response to not only the Dec. 28 incident but also previous ones in that state and elsewhere across the nation and the world. In the Dec. 28 attack, a suspect, later arrested and identified as Grafton Thomas, allegedly stabbed five individuals at a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration.
All five victims survived that attack, but previous ones have claimed the lives of several Jews, including the October 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 individuals died and six more were injured during services there.
Council members Jody Reichel and Andy Bauman, who are both Jewish, also commented on the rally.
“I just want to add to what you said and thank you, Mayor Paul, (for) opening up City Springs,” Reichel said. “I can speak from being a Jew and being on the city council. I was very proud to be Jewish and to be on the city council last night.”
Said Bauman, “I would like to echo Jody’s remarks. Last night hit on all cylinders. (The city) had about a week to prepare for this event. … I want to add, Rusty, your comments last night, as often the case, were right on point.”
Bauman helped draft the city’s hate crime ordinance, which was approved in July and is the first of its kind in Georgia.
“As (Emory University professor and historian) Deborah Lipstadt said (at the rally), “You can’t fight one -ism without fighting all -isms.”
Several other Jewish community leaders spoke at the rally.
“Our fear and anxiety (are) real, and it’s a crucial time to not succumb to the hate but instead to be Jewish and proud,” said Dov Walker of the American Jewish Committee.
Allison Padilla-Goodman of the Anti-Defamation League added, “Standing up to hate is our only option in these times.”
Said Leslie Anderson of the Jewish Community Relations Council, “As a strong community, we will not let anti-Semitism define us.”