The first Jewish settlers arrived in North America in 1654. They came to escape persecution from the Spanish and Portuguese in Europe. In the centuries that followed, many more Jews would be forced to leave Europe to escape antisemitism [hatred directed towards Jewish people]. Antisemitism in Europe led to the Holocaust. This was a terrible time when Nazi Germany killed over 6 million Jews, as well as 5 million others. Unfortunately, Jews in America still face the threat of antisemitism here today. In 2018, an event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gave everyone a terrible reminder of that fact.
On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He shot and killed 11 people as they prayed. He shouted antisemitic insults as he did it. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States. However, it was not an isolated incident.
Incidents of antisemitism in the United States have steadily increased over the past five years. These include acts of vandalism against synagogues, antisemitic messages online, threats of violence, and assaults on Jews. The Anti-Defamation League, a group that monitors and combats antisemitism, recently reported 2,717 incidents in 2021. This is the most since the group began to keep track of them.
What can be done about antisemitism in the United States? Support groups that fight antisemitism, such as the Anti-Defamation League, pressure leaders to fight antisemitism. In April of 2022, governors in Ohio and Arizona took action to define antisemitism and increase protection against it. Study the history of antisemitism to understand its dangers. Most importantly, if you see incidents of antisemitism, report them to an adult that you trust.
What Can You Do? How do you plan to stand up against antisemitism?
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