The Anti-Defamation League announced there has been a 34% rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When visitors walk into the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, one of the first things they'll see is a display with a teacup and a chair.
These two very simple objects were at the center of one very frightening day.
"(It was) a tragic and terrible hostage crisis," said Josh Perelman, chief curator of the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History
The hostage situation that Perelman referred to unfolded this January when a stranger walked into Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.
"The rabbi of that congregation offered him tea," said Perelman.
The tea was offered in the cup that now sits in the museum. The stranger who received the tea then pulled out a gun and took the Jewish congregation hostage for 11 hours.
The small but poignant exhibit at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is a way to retell that story through a simple teacup, chair and a video accompanying the items.
The strong statement comes during Jewish American Heritage Month, which is also the month that the Anti-Defamation League announced there has been a 34% rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide.
Locally, the number of anti-Semitic incidents decreased by 32% from 2020 to 2021.
But there were more tracked incidents of assault in 2021 than in prior years, according to the 6abc Data Team.
This bar chart details the crimes. Even though the numbers are relatively small, they are likely undercounted since many of the crimes go unreported.
"The rise in lack of acceptance is deeply disturbing," said Andre Goretsky, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia chapter.
The ADL says the racist attack in Buffalo, New York last Saturday is also an example of an act of violence by an individual who held racist and anti-Semitic views. It's a familiar refrain from the chair and teacup exhibit at the Weitzman Museum.
"What does history have to tell us about what we're experiencing?" Perelman asks while connecting incidents of the past on display at the museum to present-day issues.
But the museum also shows examples of what happens when people are united. That's the message of another exhibit outside the museum.
"There is a new, large, very yellow sculpture... It's called 'OY/YO'," said Perelman of the large sculpture outside the museum. It features the letters "O" and "Y" positioned in a way that makes them interchangeable.
"(Facing) towards the mall (the sculpture says) 'yo,' like a Philly welcome," said Perelman. "If you look from the other side, (it says) 'oy'... a little Jewish culture."
The sculpture is meant to show what unites us, just like the teacup and chair exhibit is meant to show what can protect us even in the face of hate.
"It is our duty to tell stories about hope," said Perelman.