Hanukkah happening amid rising anti-Semitic incidents

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Hanukkah happening amid rising anti-Semitic incidents
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"Many people are deciding not to wear their Jewish star because they're afraid of being attacked," said Marcia Bronstein, who is the regional director of the American Jewish Committee Philadelphia Southern New Jersey Region.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Marcia Bronstein proudly shows the silver dreidel and Star of David on her necklace, she realizes not everyone feels as comfortable as she does wearing them.

"Many people are deciding not to wear their Jewish star because they're afraid of being attacked," said Bronstein, who is the regional director of the American Jewish Committee Philadelphia Southern New Jersey Region.

Incidents that lead Jewish people in the area to feel uncomfortable expressing their faith are the types of incidents the Anti-Defamation League tracks. They've seen incidents of hate steadily rise over the past six years.

"In 2021 we saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents on record of harassment, vandalism and assault -- 2,717 incidents (nationwide)," said Andrew Goretsky, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia Office.

Then there's the propaganda. The Action News Journalism Team found, through early September this year, the ADL has so far tracked 719 incidents nationwide that involved spreading anti-Semitic propaganda. One such incident was at the Christkindlemarkt in Bethlehem on Sunday just as Hanukkah began.

Witnesses saw men spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, which also spiked last year.

"Pennsylvania had the highest amount of white supremacist propaganda in the country," said Goretsky.

It's why organizations are focusing even more on the fight against hate.

"Jewish organizations have banded together during Hanukkah to create a program called 'Shine a Light,'" said Bronstein of the campaign which includes public service announcements running on local and national television. Those PSAs encourage people of all faiths to speak out against hate in all of its forms.

"Saying something, when it's safe to do so, becomes vital," said Goretsky, urging people to shine a light much like the light that's celebrated during Hanukkah.

"That's why we have so many celebrations that are public," said Bronstein. "To show people we're proud. We are not hiding... to celebrate the light."

For more information on fighting hate, visit the Anti-Defamation League's website https://www.adl.org/.