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Here’s What You Think About The Spike In Anti-Semitic Vandalism

In a newsletter we sent out last week, we asked readers what they made of the recent spate of stories about instances of anti-Semitic vandalism, and what they thought it meant for American Jews. More than 140 of you wrote in to respond. Below, we’ve picked out some of your answers.

Bear in mind that this is not a scientific poll; just a sampling of the thoughts of the readers who chose to write in, and who told us we could quote their responses.

Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Run For Your Lives!

Jane Auer: “Yes – we should worry. The tolerance for bigotry is a threat and warning to all”

Ruth Rooks: “Maybe not now, but guaranteed 20, 30 years from now. Glad I won’t be around to witness the violence, but fear for children and grandchildren.”

Eric Morris Eskenazi: “It’s clearly a sign that Trump’s rhetoric is infusing a culture of Anti-Semitism and hate against Jews and any group that doesn’t fit into the White Nationalist mindset. These days are a very crucial time for American Jews to fight back against all threats made by extremists who are very ignorant about history and hope to keep us paranoid and scared.”

synagogue vandalism

Orange County, California synagogue vandalized in October 2018. Image by Getty Images

We Should Probably Start Worrying?

Debra M.: “Depending on the community, it could dissuade American Jews from practicing their Judaism. I already know of people in rural areas afraid to put a menorah in their window or a mezuzah on their door. Conversely, it could also mean we pull together as a community and become stronger as we fight a common foe.”

Neal Ross Attinson: “The need for greater vigilance, and maybe outreach; not necessarily a need for greater worry.”

Matt Friedman: “It’s an indicator of the increasing willingness of racists and bigots to verbalize and sometimes act on their beliefs…. It is highly likely that the trend of vandalism and other anti-Jewish activities will continue to move upward.”

Relax. Have Some Kugel. For Now.

Sherly Hirsh: “I think we should worry, but not let that worry get out of hand. We are not back in Germany yet. [But] people didn’t see the Holocaust coming, I just don’t want people in the US to get too comfortable. I believe it probably can happen again in the right political climate and the climate I am seeing now isn’t very comforting.

Don’t Get Angry. Get Even.

Dylan Kosson: “The examples of the GOP’s open or barely-concealed antisemitism are too numerous to list, which is perhaps why it’s escaped the attention it deserves from the broader public. The establishment American Jewish community has also been extremely reluctant to face this violent threat because of their fears of waning American support for Israel. As a result, they have staked continued US support for Israel in the party of racist Islamophobia, despite its anti-Semitism.”


A man in a swastika shirt punched in a confrontation near a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer in October 2017. Image by Getty Images

What, Me Worry?

Rabbi Arnold Saltzman: “We are giving it much too much publicity, which is what the perpetrators are looking for. Treat incidents of anti-Semitism as individual cases in the same manner we treat any crime. Address the case and perpetrator. They’re not all the same.”

Rosalie Gottfried: “Most people participating in anti-Semitic vandalism have little or no idea of the history their acts are associated with. They are done by young people with no understanding of what had transpired. As the actual events become dim with time, educators, religious leaders, and community activists must bring the message to younger generations of the horror that was perpetrated.”

William Landau: “We should not worry. That’s the way we have reacted. We should be affronted and react openly and clearly, not remain ‘sha, shtil’ as we have.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected] or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis

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