Many thanks to all who came to help Temple Beth Shalom re-dedicate their cemetery after the desecration 19 months ago, and of course to our loyal photographer, Gail Conklin. Please click on the thumbnail for a larger view.
HATE IS NOT WELCOME HERE
REMARKS FROM OUTGOING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SUZANNE LEON
Today we gather to rededicate this sacred Jewish burial ground and bring closure to a vile desecration inflicted on the Florida Jewish community. The SS symbols that were scrawled on these walls warn us that antisemitism is here in Orange County. History has taught us that we must be vigilant and stand up to hate wherever it appears. A free, civil and democratic society requires it.
In the wake of this crime, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County mobilized into action. We offered a reward for information leading to a conviction and worked with law enforcement and the County District Attorney to ensure the perpetrator was brought to justice. While we are relieved that Eric Carbonaro is serving time in Orange County jail this summer, this case is not over. In February, Judge Craig Brown will make a final decision as to his “youthful offender status”. We believe it is imperative that his criminal record remain public to deter him from further criminal activity and warn others of his hateful ideology and capacity to harm others.
At the same time, the Jewish Federation launched a comprehensive and multifaceted campaign to raise awareness of, and combat local antisemitism. Public education is the cornerstone of this campaign. We are partnering with Orange County public schools to teach the history of the Holocaust and promote tolerance in school settings. We also sponsor public programs with scholars and civic and religious leaders to raise the public discourse. This fall, we will expand outreach to the Orange County business community and launch a public service campaign that promotes tolerance by celebrating our diversity. If you would like to know more or get involved, please contact our office.
Finally, it is love of family, heritage and community that motivated the members of Temple Beth Shalom to rebuild, heal and preserve the sanctity of this burial ground. Love is the only real antidote to hate. May their love be an example for all.