Putting together year-in-review stories are always a challenge, but who better to weigh in on New Bedford's troubles and triumphs than Reverend David Lima, Executive Minister of the Interchurch Council of Greater New Bedford, and Rabbi Raphael Kanter, Spiritual Leader at the Tifereth Israel Synagogue?

Both joined Townsquare Sunday this week to review some of the happenings in 2022 and look ahead to the new year.

As we all know, the COVID-19 virus continued to rear its ugly head in 2022. Rev. Lima said not everyone is back in his church, and many are still watching services over Zoom. Rabbi Kanter said all services at the synagogue are in-person and Zoom. He said the Zoom option led to an uptick in attendance, which he calls an "unintended benefit from COVID."

Lima said there is still much skepticism about the COVID vaccines. He works with an organization called Vaccine Connect.

"We're four years in, and New Bedford right now has 69.9 percent of the city vaccinated with at least one shot. They were hoping to have reached 70 percent during the first year," he said.

On the subject of hate crimes and anti-Semitism, Rabbi Kanter said while such behavior is on the increase nationwide, that has not been the case here on the SouthCoast. His answer to ending anti-Semitism is for community leaders to act immediately.

"The people who hate Jews feel empowered when political leaders do not respond vigorously to that threat," Kanter said. "Political leaders need to be very clear that they don't accept such hatred, and don't accept violence for dealing with such hatred."

Both religious leaders hope to see progress on affordable housing in the new year. Challenges continue to exist, but Rev. Lima is hoping more people will work together to meet those challenges.

"Instead of complaining, let's see what we can do jointly for a better end," he said.

The complete interview with Rev. David Lima and Rabbi Raphael Kanter can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program heard Sunday mornings at 6 a.m. on 1420 AM and 99.5 FM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at jim.phillips@townsquaremedia.com.

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