What are the action steps Holliston could take to combat hate and bias in our town? 

How do I think I might participate in building relationships across lines of difference? 

These are the types of question some 60 members of the Holliston community had an opportunity to grapple with at the March 13th program entitled, “Antisemitism, Racism, and White Nationalism: Understanding the Connections.” Taking place at Town Hall and online, the program was the second in an education and action series focused on addressing antisemitism, racism, and bias. It followed the first offering in the series in November of 2023 entitled, “Understanding Antisemitism and the Jewish Experience.”

Once again, Holliston’s community leaders and town officials came together to provide participants an opportunity to learn together and discuss a challenging topic. The working coalition included Temple Beth Torah, Diverse Holliston, Holliston Youth and Family Services, Holliston Drug & Alcohol AwarenessCoalition, Metrowest Interfaith Community, in collaboration with HollistonPublic Schools & the HPS Director of SEL and Equity.

Jane Kohuth, Diverse Holliston member and School Principal of the Temple Beth Torah Religious School, and Jariel Vergne, Holliston Public Schools Director of SEL and Equity, facilitated small and large group discussions after a viewing of three different segments of “Set the World on Fire: How AntisemitismFuels White Nationalism,” a panel discussion by experts on the topic that first aired on PBS in 2021. Participants also had an opportunity to share strategies for new learning and action steps to be taken moving forward.

“It was interesting and informative to learn more about the connections between white supremacy, white nationalism and anti-semitism,” said Laurie Markoff, a Diverse Holliston member who attended the workshop online. “But the best part was the opportunity to discuss these issues with other Holliston residents, both in small groups and in the larger group.”

“I am embarrassed to say that up until a few years ago, I was one of those people who thought antisemitism piqued and ended during WWII. I had no idea how much people very much still believe all of these horrible things, and that some people are immersed in communities where antisemitism is preached as fact,” said Diverse Holliston president Barb Worby, who also attended the event.

“The connection between Antisemitism and white nationalism is something I have to keep learning over and over again. I think I have it, and then it dissolves,” said Diverse Holliston member and workshop attendee, Robert Principe.

The community coalition would like to express a sincere note of thanks to all who attended, and extend a special shout-out to Hollistons wonderful tech team of Christopher Meo, Dan MacLeod, and Prya Natarajan, as well as Travis Ahern, Town Administrator, for all their support in making these programs happen. 

Plans are already in the works for a third program. For those who attended, please take a moment to fill out this survey to provide your feedback on the program. For those interested in more resources, please view the program’s slide presentation.