Jewish communities fearful of increased hate crimes

By: Savin Mattozzi ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Hate messages targeted toward the Jewish community, like the spray-painted swastika at Hebrew Union College pictured above, have spread across the U.S.

More than a dozen Jewish Centers across eastern and southern America were rattled by a series of bomb threats last Monday. Sixteen Jewish Centers spanning from New Jersey to Florida received automated voice messages and/or individuals claiming that there were bombs located in those facilities.

Threats occurred in New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Delaware, Tennessee and Georgia. According to USA Today, Florida alone received six threats at centers in various cities across the state.

In Columbia, S.C., Barry A. Abels, the director of the local Jewish community center, told The New York Times that the call was made by an “elderly sounding woman, in a loud, screaming voice kept saying there’s a bomb.”

The threats were unfounded, and nobody was injured in any of the facilities. Local authorities are investigating the incidents but do not believe that they are connected. The Anti-Defamation League had a press release condemning the recent spate of threats and has reached out to the Jewish Community Center Association to show its support. It has also been in contact with local law enforcement.

These incidents come only one week after a swastika was painted on a sign at the entrance of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. According to WCPO, Cincinnati Police District 5 is analyzing security camera footage to see if they can identify any suspects.

“Anti-semitic expressions and attacks are not new to America’s Jewish community,” Rabbi Abie Ingber, Founding Director of Interfaith Community Engagement said. “The current spate of anti-semitic incidents is, however largely unparalleled in our most modern period.”

Liv Stackhouse, a sophomore biology major who is Jewish, believes that this election has empowered people to act on their biases. Despite this, she feels like she is safer on campus.

“I’ve lived every day of my life that I have to look over my shoulder. On campus, I feel very welcomed as an individual, including my faith,” Stackhouse said.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the 10 days following the election saw a reported 867 “bias-related incidents.” Of that, 100 were anti-semitic in origin. Despite Jews only making up 2.2 percent of the population, they accounted for around 12 percent of documented incidents.

Immigrants or those who were perceived to be immigrants faced the largest number of bias-related incidents at 280. They were followed then by anti-Black incidents at 187.

Stackhouse offers advice to those in the Jewish community and others who feel uncertain about their security.

“God will help you through everything,” said Stackhouse. “He is here for you, and we, as a community, both Xavier and Jewish are here for you. If you feel you need anything, all you need to do is ask.”