CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez' speech for the Jewish Community Relations Council at Temple Beth Sholom Sunday night was punctuated with rousing applause as he voiced his support for its members on local and international issues.
"Whether it's a defacement of property or the delegitimization of the Jewish State of Israel, it is up to all of us to stand up, to stand together and to speak out against anti-Semitism," said Menendez (D-N.J.)
He was the keynote speaker for the 48th annual Middle East Institute, and spoke out strongly against recent acts of anti-Semitism, including a bomb threat at a local community center and the desecration of hundreds of headstones at a Philadelphia cemetery.
"Whether you're sitting in City Hall or in the White House, we will strongly be speaking out against discrimination in all of its forms, against hatred in all of its forms," said Menendez.
Attendees say they were pleased to see such a passionate ally.
"I'm appalled by the hatred that has been expressed to our community. It's nice to hear the words of a U.S. senator opposing that and coming down with the strongest of terms," said Howard Cetel of Cherry Hill.
"Our reaction to that is to pull together and be even stronger and have greater resolve. I'm also very heartened by the outreach of our faith communities," said Rabbi Jerry David of Cherry Hill.
The younger generation in the room took the speech as a call to action.
"The call to action is to take the torch from the previous generation, and to figure out a way to keep building a relationship with Israel, to speak out against anti-Semitism at home and abroad," said Jeremy Bannett, Graduate Hospital.