ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) Every year since 1979, the Anti-Defamation League has conducted an annual audit of Anti-Semitic incidents against Jews.
Sadly, this year’s report comes out just three days after an attack on the Jewish community in California.
“With Poway this weekend, there was one death, three injuries, an entire Chabad was affected yet Jews across the country felt it significantly,” said Allison Padilla-Goodman, director of the ADL’s Southeastern region.
Rabbi Eliyahu and Dena Schusterman lead the Chabad Intown Center on Ponce De Leon Place in Atlanta. They have family connections to the Chabad in California, as the rabbi there is an extended family member.
“My daughter and my three nieces were counselors in the summer camp there,” said Dena Schusterman, the Co-Founder of Chabad Intown and Executive Director of Intown Jewish Pre-School. “That Chabad house like ours has a preschool, a summer camp, has Hebrew school,a lot of activities to bring the local Jewish community together and to teach them more about Judaism.”
The Schusterman’s say building bigger doors and adding guns won’t help, changing mindsets will.
“There is something awry in society and if we give in to the fear then we are not addressing the causes that bring about these terrible activities,” Rabbi Schusterman told CBS46.
Tuesday, The Anti-Defamation League’s audit offered an in-depth look at anti-Jewish incidents across the country.
The report shows an overall five-percent decrease in anti-Semitic incidents this year with a reported 1,879 incidents nationwide. But, putting the drop in context, 2017 was a record-breaking year of attacks against the Jewish community, Padilla-Goodman toldCBS46.
“This year’s data shows a 48-percent increase from 2016 and a 99-percent increase from 2015,” Padilla-Goodman said.
Out of the southeastern states, Georgia has the highest number of anti-Jewish incidents reported to the ADL, at 30, followed by Tennessee which had 10. Alabama had nine and South Carolina had six reported incidents.
In 2018, harassment was the most widely reported with more than 1,000 incidents. There were 774 reports of vandalism and 39 reports of assault against Jews.
“We have a pretty high bar for what qualifies as an anti-Semitic incident, for example, a swastika on a regularsidewalk is not counted as an anti-Semitic incident,” Padilla-Goodman said. “A swastika painted on the front door of a Jewish synagogue has context.”
The trends show vandalism have gone down, but assaults nearly doubled.
There was also an increase in harassment, many occurring inside of schools.
“Really ugly, strong piercing harassing of Jewish students being called slurs, references to going to the ovens, and to Hitler and the Holocaust, graffiti on student’s lockers in schools,” Padilla-Goodman explained.
Schusterman says making a difference doesn’t begin with political leaders, but with individuals in small conversations each day.
“Where we can make a difference on a real practical letter is by changing our behavior, is by not engaging in negative behavior,” Schusterman said. “If one individual can cause so much negativity and so much harm and so much sadness, then an individual cancause so much goodness in the word if we choose to act it.”