Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport has been a rabbi since 1977.
From fights as a kid to being yelled at on the street, he’s experienced antisemitism throughout his life. It continues to be an issue. Recently, 49 synagogues across the country have received calls threatening violence, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Rapoport believes the key to reducing antisemitism is teaching children at a young age that we are all equal.
“No one person is better than another," Rapoport said. "And if that would be focused on children from the time they’re little I think that would change their outlook on life.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul agrees.
“No child is born with hate in their heart," said Hochul said. "It's learned. And I believe it can be unlearned. That's what education is. That's the power of education."
Part of Hochul’s plan is to establish a New York State Anti-Hate in Education Center.
“Looks good to me," said Rapoport.
It will be a hub that brings together experts in academia and government to find solutions to hate and discrimination issues.
“We have the power to make change here and now," Hochul said. "I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think we did, I wouldn't be wasting your time. I truly believe in my heart we can change people's attitudes one person at a time."
But there’s still a long way to go.
“Antisemitism based on ignorance can be gotten rid of," said Rapoport. "Antisemitism based on hatred, and sort of a form of jealousy, I don’t know how to get rid of that.”
Hochul’s plan will also look to improve data collection of hate and bias incidents and address mental health struggles Jewish Americans may be facing.