Jewish people across the U.S. are increasingly concerned about incidents of antisemitism, a new report shows. In the Northeast, one out of six Jewish people say they were targets of antisemitism from late 2021 to the same time last year.
The findings by the advocacy group the American Jewish Committee are based on survey responses of Jewish people across different regions of the country, and show worries about antisemitism increasing. In the Northeast, 46% of Jews reported feeling less secure about their status compared to a year ago, and more than 80% believe acts of antisemitism have risen in recent years.
“This survey confirms what many people in the Jewish community are already feeling,” said Robert Leikind, the New England director for the American Jewish Committee. “It's unsettling and it's not uncommon to hear people talk about how we are returning to a time before World War II when anti-Semitism was normative in American life.”
The report, which breaks down survey results by region of the country, shows concerns about antisemitism among Jews in the Northeast mostly parallel those across the country. And it comes as New England has seen an increase in documented antisemitic attacks, including public demonstrations by white supremacist groups like NSC-131.
The findings show 15% of respondents in the Northeast avoided certain places, events or situations out of concern for their safety and comfort. Twenty percent have refrained from posting content online that would identify them as a Jew or reveal their views on Jewish issues.
The results also highlight a stark divide between Jews and non-Jews about how serious a problem antisemitism is. For example, 84% of Jews in the Northeast believe antisemitism has been increasing over the past five years, while just 50% of the general population said the same.
In response to the report, Jewish community leaders said they were troubled but not surprised. Leikind noted that temples and synagogues are now increasing security and locking their doors, something they never did years ago. Steven Schimmel, the director of the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts, added that his group prepares incoming college students for potential experiences with antisemitism on campus.
“We’ve brought in speakers who focus on that group so that these young people… have at least some sort of understanding that there’s a support network out there for them,” Schimmel said.
Elaine Zecher, a rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston, said the rise in antisemitism reflects a deeper problem.
“What stands out is the nature and proliferation of hatred going on in this world and in this country,” she said. “Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem. It is all of our problem, just like racism is all of our problem.”
Local Jewish community leaders agreed there have been few signs that the recent rise in antisemitism will abate soon. However, they said the Jewish community must rely on outreach efforts to build relationships between Jews and non-Jews.
“When you know someone, you should be less inclined to hate them. And when you understand their shared universal values, that should help,” Schimmel said.