‘We Will Stand Against Hate’: Nebraska Governor Proclaims May as Jewish American Heritage Month and Adopts IHRA Antisemitism Definition

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts holds up a proclamation declaring May as Jewish American Heritage Month in his state, as Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen looks on, May 5, 2022. Photo: CAM.

May 8, 2022

At a historic ceremony held in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Thursday, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month in his state and officially endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The event — co-hosted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, and Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America — coincided with Israel’s 74th Independence Day.

It was attended by numerous members of Nebraska’s small but thriving Jewish community, which dates back more than 150 years — including representatives of all the state’s eight synagogues, as well the Jewish Federation of Omaha.

A broad array of state and local officials, and other Nebraskan allies of the Jewish people, were also present.

“We’ve seen a disturbing rise in antisemitism across the country,” Governor Ricketts said. “Here in Nebraska, we’re not immune to it. Someone painted a swastika on a synagogue here in Lincoln. We see this rise in antisemitism and must be aggressive in combating it. We must let people know we will stand against hate.”

“When we see antisemitism, we have to take very strong steps immediately to combat it,” he added. “That’s why we want to make this proclamation to recognize the Jewish community’s contributions to Nebraska and the nation.”

In addition to Governor Ricketts, other speakers included Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen, CAM Advisory Board member and former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan S. Carr, Holocaust survivor Milton “Milt” Kleinberg, and Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Yinam Cohen.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (center) holds the shofar gifted to him by CAM in appreciation of his support for the Jewish people. Photo: CAM.


In remarks tinged with emotion, Kleinberg said, “I’m Jewish and I have always loved the free state of Nebraska. I could have taken my business to Texas, but Nebraska is home, and our governor is a friend.”

Carr stated, “With the state of Nebraska’s endorsement, the majority of U.S. states have now adopted the IHRA definition, which is now a tipping point for its success, meaning that only a minority of states have yet to do so. While there remains resistance to the IHRA definition, it is a minority voice and is becoming increasingly drowned out by decision-makers and opinion-shapers across the U.S. and the world who are placing their authority behind it and leaving less room for antisemites to espouse their hate and intolerance.”

Dan Feinberg, a fifth-generation Nebraskan who serves as the president of his synagogue in Lincoln, told CAM, “It warms my heart to see the Lincoln and Omaha Jewish communities together in the Governor’s Hearing Room.”

As a gesture of appreciation for Governor Ricketts’ support of the Jewish people, CAM gifted him a personalized shofar, made in Israel, at the end of the ceremony.

Watch a full recording of the ceremony here:

Nebraska is the 27th U.S. state to adopt or endorse the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

A CAM Information Hub database of information on state adoptions of the definition can be accessed here.