Anti-Semitic incidents remain high in New Jersey despite the pandemic

CHERRY HILL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey saw its third-highest rate of anti-Semitic incidents in 2020, according to the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey.

The 2020 audit showed 295 incidents across the Garden State, which is down from 2019 but still high, officials say.

Despite a call for change across the Delaware Valley, numbers show hate crimes against Jews continue to be a pressing issue even amid the pandemic.

"It is fairly shocking that we are at historic highs. We've been doing this audit since 1979, and in those 40 years, 2019 was the highest, but 2020 is very, very close," said Scott Richman, the regional director for the ADL New York and New Jersey Region.

In the first quarter of 2020, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 86 anti-Semitic incidents, which were up 85% from the 52 recorded incidents in the same quarter in 2019.

While the hate did slow down a bit with CDC guidelines, it still remained high, Richman says.

"New York is number one, and New Jersey is number two. We divide those acts into three categories: harassment, vandalism, and assault," said Richman.

The news comes as New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced a lawsuit against Jackson Township for using zoning powers to exclude and discriminate against Orthodox Jews.

The office also recently released monthly reports of hate crimes in the state.

One of the biggest tactics the ADL has seen over the pandemic is called zoom bombing, where actors appear out of nowhere on a virtual call and spew hate.

Richman added they often scream and blurt out things like 'kill the Jews' or speak of Hitler.

The Jewish Federation of South Jersey says while virtual hate has been a growing problem, there have also been a number of people yelling hateful things to families while they're walking to a synagogue.

But several organizations are on the same accord that the fight against anti-Semitism is a fight against all hate.

"We in the Jewish community know that if anti-Semitism is reduced, that's not going to reduce other forms of racism and bigotry and prejudice. We're all in this together. Hate is hate," said David Synder, chief advancement & community relations officer for the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey.
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