People of all ages, races, and faiths in Cherry Hill are raising their voices in different languages to drive home a message of unity.
Mayor Chuck Cahn released a video called Hate Has No Home in Cherry Hill on Monday night at a Township Council meeting. He also announced the formation of a Human Relations Advisory Committee.
The actions follow recent threats against the Jewish community in Cherry Hill and elsewhere in the region and vandalism around the country. A 19-year-old Jewish man suspected of being behind the bulk of the threats was arrested in Israel last week.
"We have a responsibility as community leaders to be proactive when our community needs us the most; to stand up for the most vulnerable among us, and to create a community where everyone feels welcome, valued, and safe," Cahn said in a statement. "Countless individuals, from private citizens to local civic and religious leaders, have reached out to us to express their own concerns, and to find out what we can do together to unite Cherry Hill, and to create a climate where everyone feels safe and welcome."
The 2½-minute video features township officials, community and religious leaders, students, and others representing the diverse community of more than 70,000 residents. It opens with scenes from the township and the headline "You couldn't pick a better place."
"In Cherry Hill our differences are our strength," says Police Chief William Monaghan.
"It doesn't matter the color of your skin, your religion, where you move from, or with whom you live at home," says School Superintendent Joseph Meloche.
The video was recorded and produced by broadcasting students at Cherry Hill High School West, one of two high schools in the district.
Cahn said the newly created 16-member Human Relations Advisory Committee will work with township officials to address issues of fear and anxiety expressed by residents in recent months. It will meet quarterly and includes township officials and school, civic, and religious leaders, he said.
"Today, people across our community are standing up together to make it clear that hate has no place in Cherry Hill, only kindness," Cahn said in the video.