On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Governor Newsom and the Jewish Caucus Announce Budget Funding To Bolster Security at Places of Worship and Schools

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sacramento, CA – Today, the California Legislature observed Holocaust Remembrance Day at the State Capitol and hosted ten Holocaust Survivors who shared their stories on the Assembly floor. The California Legislative Jewish Caucus also held a press conference attended by Governor Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, leaders of the other ethnic caucuses, and other state legislators. The California Legislative Jewish Caucus and Governor Gavin Newsom announced $15 million of state funding to bolster security at places of worship and institutions facing hate-motivated violence after the horrific attack on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue this past weekend.

“With the stark rise in hate-motivated violence, we must do more to secure gathering places to prevent future attacks, and educate people on the dangers of anti-Semitism and hate of all forms,” said Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica), Chair of California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

“The most basic and fundamental responsibility of government is to protect its citizens, and we need more than thoughts and prayers to keep us safe from hate-motivated violence. We’re unwilling to accept this as the new normal. Everyone should feel safe and comfortable in a house of worship, regardless of their faith,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, Vice Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus and author of AB 1548. “We are very grateful to Governor Newsom for his leadership to improve the safety of Jews and other groups targeted by hate-motivated violence.”

AB 1548 (Gabriel), a top priority for the Jewish Caucus, would codify the California State Nonprofit Security Grant Program for security enhancements at nonprofits at risk of hate-motivated violence. The program would provide grants for the purpose of hardening soft targets such as schools, LGBTQ organizations, women’s health groups, Muslim, Sikh, and Jewish community centers as well as other facilities at a high risk for violent attacks and hate crimes. Grant money would be distributed to applicants for security enhancements including security guards, reinforced doors and gates, high-intensity lighting and alarms, and any other security enhancement consistent with the purpose of the program.

“With a rising tide of anti-Semitism in America and around the world, it is important to remember that the Holocaust didn’t happen overnight,” Assemblymember Gabriel added. “It began with hate speech and smaller acts of violence, until an enlightened and modern society embraced a campaign of genocide.”

“I came to Sacramento today to represent the survivors of the Holocaust. I want to enlighten the people. I do have a voice,” said Paula Lebovics, a child survivor from Poland who was liberated from Auschwitz 1945. “Anti-Semitism is here once again, all over the world. The past is now present. [By teaching the history of our survival, we can help educate future generations to avoid such terrible tragedies and truly say ‘Never Again.’]”

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus is committed to never forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust. Each year, this ceremony presents a unique opportunity to hear stories from survivors and their descendants. As the number of survivors diminishes, there is a growing urgency to take the time to learn from these stories first-hand. This year, the Caucus invited ten survivors to the Capitol to share their stories with legislators:

  • Josie Levy Martin survived World War II by hiding in a Catholic school in France. Her book, Never Tell Your Name, tells the story of growing up as a hidden child.
  • Joshua Kaufman survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Death March, Dachau, and Muhldorf Concentration Camps. He immigrated to Israel in 1949 and fought in the Yom Kippur War.
  • Dr. Avraham Perlmutter was on the Kindertransport of Jewish Children from Austria to the Netherlands. The Dutch Resistance hid him in various places, and he escaped two Nazi sieges. He wrote an autobiography about his journey.
  • As an infant in 1941, Jerry Weiser was smuggled out of the Bratislava Ghetto and went to live with a farmer’s family in the hills outside Bratislava. After the war, his mother found him and he moved to Israel.
  • Lea Radziner was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands the day after Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. She was rescued by a Christian family.
  • Paula Lebovics lived in a Polish ghetto before being sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She was liberated by the Soviets and lived in a displaced persons camp in Germany for six years.
  • Regina Hirsch lived in the Lodz Ghetto before being deported to Auschwitz as part of the final liquidation. She and her two sisters were transferred to Theresienstadt, where they were liberated.
  • Ruth Mehler is Regina’s older sister. Of 11 children, only her and her two sisters survived. They went through the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, and Theresienstadt together.
  • Max Garcia went into hiding in Amsterdam, but was found and arrested by the Nazis. He survived Auschwitz, the Death March, the Death Train to Mauthausen Concentration Camp, and Melk concentration camp.          
  • Tauba Weiss survived two ghettos and six concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Stutthof. At the war’s end, Russian liberators prevented Nazis from shooting her and her fellow prisoners.


# # #

Follow the California Legislative Jewish Caucus on FB/@CAJewishCaucus and TW/@CAJewishCaucus.