Standing with Our Jewish Community
Last week, the County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to honor International Holocaust Memorial Day. This resolution honors the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
Jana Zimmer, a second-generation Holocaust survivor, community leader, and author of Chocolates from Tangier, was present to accept the resolution. She shared her reflections that the resolution is not just symbolic but showed solidarity between the Jewish community and other marginalized groups. She also spoke about generational trauma and how poignant it was for her to take care of her mother at the end of her life, specifically because the rest of her family met their end in Auschwitz.
The resolution and community members reminded us about the history, facts, and devastation of the Holocaust. The state-sponsored, systemic persecution and the annihilation of European Jewish peoples by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. The victims of this devastation included six million Jewish people, including children. Additional victims of the Holocaust included Ashkenazy and Sephardic Jewish communities; Roma peoples, people with disabilities, Polish peoples; LGBTQ+ individuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, political dissidents, journalists, and judges. All of these groups suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi tyranny.
Supervisor Laura Capps and Joan Hartmann worked with Jewish community members to draft and adopt the resolution. Supervisor Capps shared, “Continued education and understanding of cultural groups are needed across our community. Last month, anti-Semitic flyers were dispersed in my district on the Mesa on the first day of Hanukkah.”
“This was a coordinated effort that occurred and is compounded by the horrific displays of anti-Semitism across the country. I am disheartened, frustrated, and ready to support our community members. I thank the courageous leadership of the Jewish community, in particular Dan Meisel, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Santa Barbara Tri-Counties, for helping us all find ways to do better.”
Meisel has been working regionally to help bring education and understanding not just for Jewish communities but ALL marginalized communities. He believes that we must be educated culturally and has been working with the regional chapter of ADL to provide resources and support. Meisel noted, “Other counties have launched initiatives to address hateful attitudes and incidents. Los Angeles County, for example, created and funded an L.A. vs. Hate campaign that helps community members report hate incidents and connects them with a network of community organizations (including ADL) that support victims and offer preventative programming. Santa Barbara County could consider a similar approach.”
Both Supervisor Capps and Hartmann provided statements that their offices will continue to support and collaborate with our cultural communities with education, understanding, and inclusion.
“It is up to all of us,” Capps stated. “I challenge our community members to stand, reach out in support, and work together to build a region where all can thrive.”
Editor’s Note: After this article was received, more anti-Semitic flyers were distributed in the area. This time through Isla Vista on the morning of Jan. 31. Capps would like to add:
“This is a horrific reminder that anti-Semitism continues to plague our nation. My district continues to be targeted with these anti-Semitic flyers, last month in the Mesa and this week in Isla Vista. It is sad that a national hate group goes to such lengths to attempt to be hurtful and spread awful bigotry. In Santa Barbara County, we do not tolerate hate and discriminatory acts. I stand with the Jewish community and the Jewish students living in Isla Vista, especially today. I encourage you to report any acts of hate to law enforcement.”
Laura Capps is the Second District Supervisor for the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors