United by a common struggle of increased hate in recent years, Asian and Jewish people in Philadelphia will now be represented by an organization that aims to combat further violence against their communities.
Launched on Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and the American Jewish Committee, the new Pennsylvania Asian Pacific American Jewish Alliance (PAPAJA) seeks to build ties between the Asian and Jewish communities and create opportunities to work together to purge anti-Asian hate and anti-Semitism.
Pennsylvania is among several states that have seen a general surge in hate crimes since the onset of COVID-19. In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 200%, while anti-Semitic hate crimes – though they have since dropped slightly – were still 55% higher than the Commonwealth’s annual average.
“We unite to fight the Antisemitism and Anti-Asian hate targeting these two communities, build deep understanding between each other, and cultivate knowledge on unique common struggles, for example, the myth of the model minority and the myth of dual loyalty,” Stephanie Sun, executive director of the Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, said in a statement. “By starting conversations and sharing knowledge, we can begin to break down the walls that divide us and support each other to create real change in Pennsylvania.”
Thursday’s press conference was held at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. It came right after the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
“I am the child of a Holocaust survivor who, like so many, fled hatred in their home nations and arrived in America to be able to worship as we please, excel in our work, live without fear of violence and provide for our families,” said Alan Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey. “Today, with growing hate, everyone needs to realize that our very American democracy is at stake.”
The alliance launched with 12 core members. They are scheduled to meet every quarter.
Featured Image via C-SPAN