Evan Beachler, Senior Editor
September 22, 2023
Page of the Talmud
The upcoming Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur (starting this evening), Sukkot, and Simchat Torah from late September through October will draw larger crowds to synagogues. Anti-Defamation League (ADL) data shows 1265 antisemitic attacks thus far for 2023. Law enforcement can enhance security by increasing patrols, coordinating plans with synagogues, controlling access points, assessing vulnerabilities, monitoring threats, responding rapidly to incidents, and investigating any concerning activities. Worshippers can also stay safe by remaining alert, following security guidance, training for emergencies, avoiding isolated areas, limiting public event details, and building relationships with local police. By layering security measures, maintaining vigilance, and working together, law enforcement and the Jewish community can help ensure the safety of congregations gathering for these important religious observances. Proactive prevention coupled with rapid response to any threats will be key.
Summary: Here is a summary of some key findings from the ADL anti-Semitic incident data:
The states with the highest number of reported anti-Semitic incidents include New York, California, Florida, New Jersey, and Michigan.
New York - Had the most incidents by far, with over 70 entries spanning vandalism, threats, propaganda distribution, and harassment. This frequency is likely due to the large Jewish population centered in the NYC metro area.
California - Over 30 incidents reported. Significant Jewish population across major cities. Swastikas, slurs common in schools/public areas.
Florida - At least 25 incidents logged, including vandalism and Extremist group activities.
New Jersey - Over 20 incidents covering schools, synagogues, and public areas.
Michigan - Over 15 incidents reported, including bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers.
Other states with higher reported incidents include Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
The most common types of incidents were vandalism like graffiti (swastikas, slurs), distribution of propaganda, and threats or harassment either online, by phone/message, or in person.
Incidents occurred across various locations - schools, places of worship, public areas, transportation, and online platforms.
Perpetrators ranged from individuals acting alone to organized extremist groups like Patriot Front, Goyim Defense League, and National Socialist Movement, among others.
Jewish community centers, schools, and synagogues faced threats, bomb scares, and vandalism - indicating targeting of Jewish identity/community.
Propaganda campaigns pushed conspiracy theories about Jewish control, Holocaust denial, and opposition to LGBTQ/diversity.
Slurs, stereotypes, and calls for violence appeared frequently in threats and propaganda. Extremists used Nazi symbols like swastikas.
While some incidents were isolated, the breadth indicates that anti-Semitism persists as an underlying societal problem manifesting through harassment, vandalism, and extremism. In summary, anti-Semitic incidents were widespread, targeting Jewish identity through various methods, from individual harassment to organized propaganda efforts. Understanding the nature of these incidents can help inform effective responses.
These antisemitic acts were almost certainly ideologically motivated crimes specifically targeting Jewish communities. They are highly likely to be fueled by extremist promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and prejudices, sometimes under the guise of politics. A comprehensive response requires addressing individual acts and the root ideologies that inspire them.
Awareness for Worshippers: Here are some key items worshippers should know about security at houses of worship:
Situational Awareness - Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activities or individuals to staff.
Emergency Exits - Know where emergency exits are located in the event evacuation is needed.
Rally Points - Identify where to meet up with family/friends if you get separated during an emergency.
Lockdown Locations - Know where to shelter-in-place if a lockdown is ordered[f].
First Aid - Know where first aid kits and AEDs are located. Consider getting first aid/Stop the Bleed training.
Communication Methods - Ask how the facility will communicate with worshippers in an emergency. Sign up for text alerts if available.
Reporting Procedures - Know how to call 911 or notify staff if an emergency occurs.
Security Team - Be aware of ushers, greeters, or other security personnel who provide assistance.
Emergency Plans - Ask leadership about emergency protocols and your role in response. Offer to join response/safety teams.
Training Drills - Participate in any safety or security drills held at the facility.
Situational Awareness - Pay attention to your surroundings and visitors' behaviors before, during, and after services.
Limit Sharing - Be careful about sharing facility access information and security procedures publicly.
Being an active participant in the house of worship's security efforts helps everyone stay safe.
Most importantly, if you see something suspicious, please report it to local law enforcement.
Recommendations for Law Enforcement: Here are some recommendations for law enforcement based on the data of anti-Semitic incidents:
Increase patrols and physical security presence at synagogues, Jewish schools, community centers during services, events, and holidays.
Work closely with Jewish community leaders and groups to share intelligence, assess threats, develop safety plans, and build trust.
Monitor online platforms and social media for threats and extremist organizing targeting Jewish communities.
Investigate and prosecute harassment, vandalism, and propaganda crimes as hate-motivated offenses whenever appropriate. Apply relevant penalty enhancements.
Train officers on the ideological motivations and historical context of anti-Semitic hate groups and symbols to better recognize and respond to incidents.
Closely track local incidents and trends in anti-Semitic activity to allocate resources to high-risk areas proactively.
Establish anonymous tip lines and channels for Jewish groups and students to safely report incidents and threats.
Develop educational programs highlighting consequences of anti-Semitic hate crimes and importance of tolerance for youth and communities.
Reassure communities by publicly condemning all anti-Semitic acts and affirming support and protection of Jewish citizens against discrimination.
Collaborate with faith communities and leaders to encourage reporting of incidents, de-escalate tensions, and marginalize extremist ideologies.
Balance security measures with civil liberties and building inclusive, resilient communities across lines of difference.
The goal should be fostering environments where Jewish communities and identities are secure against harassment and threats. Cooperation, education and prevention are key along with response.
 ADL Heat Map, Anti-Defamation League, September 22, 2023, https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-to-track-hate/heat-map