Governor Cooper Signs SHALOM Act Into Law

By Jessica Goldfarb, JFGC Communications Specialist

In a historic moment for North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper signed the SHALOM Act into law, accompanied by representatives of Jewish communities across the state, including Tair Giudice, chief impact officer, and Douglas Greene, government relations and public affairs associate, who attended on behalf of Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte through its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). This new law, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 45-2 in the NC Senate and 105-3 in the NC House, aims to address the rise of antisemitism by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism.

Jewish communities across the state, including Federations in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro; Jewish for Good; Hadassah; Voice4Israel; and the NC Holocaust Foundation and Holocaust Council have advocated tirelessly for the passage of this act through countless meetings, phone calls, and events like the May 8 “Day of Advocacy.” These organizations worked together to raise awareness, educate legislators, and mobilize support to ensure that the law reflects our collective needs and concerns. Individual members of the Jewish community were vital to these efforts, reaching out to their representatives with hundreds of calls and letters to reiterate the importance of this act, a message that was heard loud and clear by NC lawmakers

The JCRC, the advocacy and public affairs arm of Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, along with Federation’s Outshine Hate initiative, work to combat antisemitism and support Jewry on both a local and global scale. The JCRC educates, engages, and mobilizes the broader Charlotte community to act on critical issues, including the SHALOM Act, antisemitism, and Israel affairs.

Between October 7, 2023, and January 7, 2024 there was an average of nearly 34 antisemitic incidents per day reported in the U.S., marking a 337% increase in the prevalence of such incidents. Despite this unprecedented rise, nearly one-third of all Americans say they either do not know the meaning of antisemitism or have never heard the word. Adopting the IHRA definition ensures that antisemitism is clearly defined across North Carolina, thereby offering better protection and response to antisemitic acts.

The IHRA definition is the preeminent and most commonly accepted definition of antisemitism. It has been adopted by more than 1,100 governments, universities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide, 31 U.S. states, and both the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Education. This definition is comprehensive, including contemporary examples that aid in distinguishing antisemitic rhetoric.

It is important to note that the SHALOM Act does not revise any existing anti-discrimination policies, limit freedom of speech, or outlaw criticism of Israel or the Israeli government. These are common and damaging misconceptions. Rather, the SHALOM Act provides guidance to public officials on applying existing laws, helping public institutions stay compliant with federal civil rights obligations. Moreover, it serves as an important tool to educate others on why certain speech may constitute antisemitism, which is offensive, intolerant, and harmful.

Governor Cooper released the following statement on the signing: “Defining antisemitism is important to stopping it, and this new law helps do that as antisemitic incidents are on the rise. While we protect the right to free speech, this legislation helps to make our state a more welcoming, inclusive, and safe place for everyone.”

This effort exemplifies the strength and resilience of our Jewish communities, demonstrating how collaboration and advocacy can lead to meaningful change. Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte is deeply thankful for the community’s and North Carolina legislators’ support. The passage of the SHALOM Act marks a significant step towards a safer and more inclusive North Carolina.

Photo Caption: Representatives of Jewish organizations across the state were present for the signing, including Tair Giudice, chief impact officer (far left, and Douglas Greene, public relations and government affairs associate (far right) for Federation and its JCRC.

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