Interrupting Contemporary Antisemitism: What Can We Do About It?
May 4 | 7pm | Congregation Beth Israel and online
Antisemitic bias crimes and incidents have increased in Oregon and across the nation in the last few years. From conspiracy theories about COVID to violent attacks on synagogues, Jewish communities are facing a new wave of threat to their safety and security. But what is the appropriate response to this form of virulent hatred that ultimately harms all communities? This event looks at the hurt caused by this new wave of anti-Jewish bias, while focusing on practical skills to de-escalate potentially violent conflicts, both online and in physical spaces. The assembled panel will discuss the current information on trends and patterns of antisemitism, its impact on the local Jewish community, social forces driving the increase in attacks, and conflict resolution skills to successfully confront antisemitism. Panelists: Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana (Congregation Beth Israel), Stephen Paolini (ADL – PNW), Dr. Randall Blazak (Coalition Against Hate Crimes), and Ryan Nakade (Cure-PDX).
Randall Blazak has been the chair of Oregon’s Coalition Against Hate Crimes since 2002 and is a globally recognized expert on bias crimes and extremism. Blazak earned his PhD at Emory University in 1995 after completing an extensive field study of racist skinheads that included undercover observations and interviews across the world. He became a tenured sociology professor at Portland State University and currently teaches sociology classes at the University of Oregon and Portland Community College. He serves as the vice-chair of Oregon’s Department of Justice Steering Committee on Bias Crimes and Incidents and is a subject matter expert on a federally funded grant to develop community based responses to violent extremism.
Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana joined Congregation Beth Israel in 2006. He is highly engaged in social action, embracing the concept of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) to make our community and nation better. He serves on the leadership team of Lift Every Voice Oregon, and interfaith movement to pass gun safety legislation in Oregon. He also is on the Board of Cedar Sinai Park and an at-large member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
Ryan Nakade, is a conflict mediator and facilitator. He works as a consultant for the Cure-PDX project, where he leads trainings on dialogue skills to bridge divides and disrupt toxic polarization. He lives in Toledo, WA with his wife and nine goats.
Stephen Paolini is the Associate Regional Director of ADL in the Pacific Northwest. His work involves responding to incidents of hate and bias, working with law enforcement to provide training on hate crimes and extremism, and leading efforts to pass legislation at the state, regional, and local level. Prior to working at ADL Stephen led efforts in Washington State to address gun violence on the ballot and in the state legislature, including a 2018 effort that regulated assault rifles statewide. He serves on the board of Community Passageways, a restorative justice organization that helps divert youth from the criminal justice system.