Pennsylvania State House forms Black-Jewish Caucus

Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Concerns over an increase in hate crimes and bigotry have led to a new caucus in the state house. Two minority groups are once again joining forces to be a positive force for good.

Black people and Jewish people, members say, share a history of persecution and discrimination. But also collaboration.

“When anti-Semitism happens we should speak up, but when black bodies drop in the city of Philadelphia and across this Commonwealth, we should also speak up,” said Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia).

The Jewish people were at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the 60s that brought change, and they hope to do it again.

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“To drive home an agenda particularly with respect to social justice and collaborate in the way we should be to represent our communities, the great history that we have as well as the vulnerabilities,” said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County).

But why now? George Floyd shows racism still exists and Kanye West shows anti-Semitism does too. A unified front can’t hurt.

“I think this is a beautiful thing that’s happening. There are prevailing narratives that we don’t get along and there should be some on going tension that cannot be resolved. I dispute that,” said Rep. Chris Raab (D-Philadelphia).

“Look at the stats. Bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism on the rise. And so if we could frequently call out the scourge of anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds, that’s a good starting point. And now’s the perfect time to do it,” added Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia).

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Already paving a new path is Jewish Governor Josh Shapiro and African American Lt. Governor Austin Davis.

“Look, I think anything like that that can bring people together, help folks understand one another, better put them in a position to be able to experience, understand their life experiences better, will inevitably lead to better law, making closer friendships, and more meaningful action,” Shapiro said.

The Black-Jewish Caucus is open to House members who are Black and Jewish, Republican or Democrat, but the overwhelming majority of members in those groups are Democratic.