I had the honor of speaking today at Springfield’s Yom HaShoah service, in remembrance of those who fell during the Holocaust. I would like to thank the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF). Considering how much antisemitism and hate seems to be bubbling up recently, I thought it was important to share the speech with you here. We must raise as a united voice when we say Never Again!
Yom Hashoah will always remain as an important reminder to the devastation and destruction the Holocaust caused not only to Jews like myself, but many other people that didn’t fit the “mold”. Those people who are different. Those people who don’t meet a dangerous standard.
I grew up in Skokie. When I was three, I have memories of how my community came together when the Nazis wanted to march through our downtown. When I was a teenager, I remember experiencing the same level of hate when a newly dedicated Holocaust Memorial outside of our public library was defaced with swastikas and messages of hate. In college, someone thought it would be funny to draw a swastika outside of my dorm room. I’ve seen hate and I’ve experienced hate.
I would like to say in 2018 we’re past the hate. We’re past the ignorance. But I would be lying. It still exists. Right here in Illinois, we have a despicable man running for congress who’s a former leader of the American Nazi party. My fellow brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community have to constantly fight for basic human rights. African-Americans are still facing baseless discrimination. Hispanics are being robbed of the American dream. The cycle doesn’t end.
When I took the oath of office back in October, I wanted my children to see that there’s good people in politics. There are good people who stand up for our most vulnerable citizens. Who will say enough to the same rhetoric Hitler used in Germany. And as I stand here today, I have taken up this fight. As long as I am in office, I will be a champion to stop the cycle of hate that ravages our country.
As the brave young Americans are showing us, we can stand up for our beliefs. They’ve taken on the NRA and have them on the ropes. A collection of teenagers is fighting for his/her beliefs, and people are listening. Whether or not you agree with these brave kids, the impact is being felt around the world.
Inside of my good friend Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Aviv Ezra’s office is a photo of Israeli fighter jets flying over the gates of Auschwitz. The power of that message and power of all of our voices cannot be ignored. We have to stand up for the injustices we see around us. Stand up for what’s right. As I stand here today, when I was a child that many people dismissed as not-good-enough, it shows that if we all work for what we believe in and fight for what’s right, we all can make a difference.
Thank you to the JUF, the Governor, and my fellow legislators who stand with me today and speak for the countless voices that were never heard. And allow us to stand up for what’s right. Shalom and God Bless.