Shining a Light
By: Governor Kristi Noem
December 15, 2023
Jewish people around the world are concluding their celebration of the miracle of Hanukkah. As they do so, I cannot help but think of them and the State of Israel.
Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees rededicating the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Of course, today, there is no Temple in Jerusalem. And the people of Israel have been facing terror for weeks. Since the October 7th attack on unarmed civilians, the people of Israel have been fighting for their lives – fighting for their right to exist.
Here in the United States, we need to stand with our closest ally in the Middle East. They need our support. The State of South Dakota has long stood with the State of Israel, and we do not plan to stop now.
In 2020, I signed an Executive Order that prohibited South Dakota Executive Branch Agencies from contracting with entities boycotting Israel. I proclaimed November 28th, 2021, “Antisemitism Awareness Week” and February 24th, 2022, “Israel Relations Day.” And earlier this year, South Dakota celebrated the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel.
“Breaking Bread” embodies the essence of sharing culture, finding common ground, building community, and preserving traditions. These are all important values to Jewish people all over the world. During Hannukah, “The Festival of Lights,” I declared the week of December 11th, 2023, as “Shine a Light, Breaking Bread Week.” I did this to symbolize and celebrate South Dakota’s commitment to ensuring all people feel safe to share culture, discuss their beliefs openly in their communities, and are welcomed in our state.
Since the October 7th attack, Jewish people around the world have been facing discriminatory acts of hatred. Violent acts against the Jewish people have even skyrocketed here in the United States. This includes at least 109 rallies explicitly supporting Hamas. Violent acts against Jews have increased 388% over the same period last year. I recently announced that I will be supporting a bill this legislative session to prevent antisemitism in South Dakota.
Antisemitism is discrimination against the Jewish people. This bill will support Jews in South Dakota by increasing their protections against antisemitic acts of hate.
I am proud to support this legislation, and we are taking additional steps to ensure Jewish people feel welcome in South Dakota. This week, my Bureau of Human Resources and Administration announced new training to help state employees raise awareness for antisemitic bias and discrimination.
Jewish people never deserve the kind of hate they are receiving today, but especially not during one of their most holy holidays of the year. And as Hanukkah has reminded us to turn our attention to the Jewish people, we must not stop shining a light on them. They deserve to feel safe in their communities. They deserve the Freedom to express and practice their religion. And they deserve our everlasting love and support.
I continue to pray for safety and peace. And South Dakota will continue to stand firm in our resolve to support the people of Israel.