Wine country stands up to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of hate

In this season of peace, residents in wine country feel its essential not only to light Menorah candles for Hanukkah but to remind people that hatred of any form is not acceptable.

Officials are also denouncing hate and racism, and are standing up for shedding light on the growing problem, even in the Bay Area.

Napa County's only synagogue, the 70-year-old Congregation Beth Shalom, has experienced vile anti-Semitic leafleting this year.

"Throughout the Bay Area there have been more and more real-world incidences that reflect this general escalation of anti-Semitic rhetoric and harassment," said Jeremy Russell of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Monday evening at Beth Shalom state Sen. Bill Dodd, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curryt, and other local officials directly addressed the growing scourge of anti-Semitism, whether openly from the likes of Kanye West, or anonymously as is often the case online.

"Anonymity provides a certain temptation and there's something in the algorithms that just tend to highlight conflict and bring out the worst in people," said Russell.

To counter anti-Semitism, "Here I Am" is an online effort by the Bay Area Jewish community to demonstrate the vibrancy, values, and wide diversity of Judaism through grassroots storytelling videos.

"When I am out in the world, I'm perceived as an African-American, but I am not perceived as Jewish and what that means is I find myself in spaces where people feel comfortable, sharing anti-Semitic stories, jokes, and statements with me," said diversity advocate Marcella White Campbell in her vignette.

Natasha Kehimkar,  an India-born Jewish woman, minced no words during her segment, "Anti-Semitism and homophobia and racism; these things are all connected. You rarely get on without the other," said Kehimkar.