Anti-Semitism strikes home in New Jersey

 Anti-Semitism has been prominent throughout history and is still occurring today. The long-standing stereotypes and generalizations about members of the Jewish community are still affecting students and adults. “Many people think that because Jewish people are generally successful, anti-Semitism isn’t an issue,” said junior T.J. Rickey.

  Recent events have disproved that.

This October, tragedy struck in Pittsburgh as a gunman opened fire in the Tree of Life Synagogue during Saturday morning services, killing twelve innocent people. Not only was Pittsburgh put in the spotlight, but rather the entire Jewish population. The shooting hit the hearts of many local community members.

“After I heard about the shooting in Pittsburgh, I was taken back by it. I couldn’t really focus for the rest of the day,” said sophomore Josh Goodfellow. “I work in a Jewish elderly home, so of course I kept hearing about it the rest of the night, which further made me feel worse about how someone could be so evil and do that to innocent people.”

 Another student, sophomore Ben Nadelbach, was also hurt by the shooting. “The Pittsburgh shooting was awful, it was so upsetting to see that happen so close to us.”

 The president of the American Cultures Club at Eastern, Noam Margalit, said he was shocked at the shooting. “I felt threatened. It was an act of hate and it hurt that someone took the time to kill us just because we are Jewish.”

 We often think that living in a highly populated Jewish area shelters us from witnessing anti-Semitism first hand. However, it still occurs and can occur anywhere. Even in an area where you can’t make a right turn without passing a synagogue or walk down the hall of  Eastern and not see someone repping BBYO (a popular Jewish youth movement) attire, we still have anti-Semitism.

 Eastern is not to spare from anti-Semitism either. Last year, while walking out of the Gym 4 locker room, a swastika was outlined in masking tape on the locker door. The incident went unreported, but it was still appalling and disturbing.

  If something like this happens to you, make sure to report it to the office. Do not let it go unreported.

 There was another incident featuring a swastika that was etched into a desk. A student was shocked to see it on their own desk. “It made me feel angry and uncomfortable. It’s not something you joke around about,” said the student. They had reported the swastika to the teacher, who then took it up with the administrators and got the desk cleared. “It was carved in there so no one could notice it,” said the student.

  On an early Saturday morning in October, residents of Cherry Hill’s Old Orchard neighborhood woke up to racist and anti-Semitic KKK propaganda on their front lawns. The hatred seems to continue.

  Rabbi Bryan Wexler of Temple Beth Shalom responded to the Pittsburgh shootings by expressing his condolences and questioning the world in which we live. He also notes that although the shooting was in Pittsburgh, it is close to home. “All shootings are tragic, but this one felt close to home as it took place at a synagogue, on Shabbat morning, while people were at prayer services, just like we do each Shabbat.”

 There are a few steps to reducing anti-Semitism. One is education. Parents and schools need to educate kids at young ages what anti-Semitism is and the effects of it. “The only thing we can do is to try to prevent it in the future by teaching people what is right and wrong,” said Nadelbach

 That is what NCSY does. Not only do they spread Jewish awareness in high schools in America and Canada, but they lobby for laws that protect Jews.

 The second step is for Jews themselves to lead by example. Sometimes we crack a “Jew” joke, but that needs to be eliminated. While we might find it funny, others start to hear it and think that it is okay. They figure if we’re saying it, then it must be okay.

 The last step is an overall appreciation of diversity. “People need to realize that in order to coexist, we need to love each other and realize that everyone has something to offer. But ultimately it comes down to respecting each other,” said senior Nathan Dadi.

 There is no room for hate in this world or our communities. There is no reason why students are drawing swastikas on desks, textbooks, and bathroom stalls. For some reason, people think that it is funny. News flash- it is not. Let’s stop hate one step at a time. Anti-Semitism has no home here or anywhere.


Local Anti-Semitic Acts (2017): There were a total of 208 reported Anti-Semitic Acts in New Jersey:

  1. JCC bomb threats – Cherry Hill, NJ
  2. KKK flyers on lawns spreading anti-Semitism – Cherry Hill
  3. Keyed car with anti- Jewish language – Audubon
  4. Swastika Vandalism – Mahwah
  5. Swastika Vandalism in Jewish store – Fairview
  6. Anti-Jewish language by employee of store – Secaucus
  7. Two Jewish women threatened by Nazis who wanted them killed – Berkeley Township, NJ
  8. Anti-Jewish verbiage outside Metlife Stadium, – East Rutherford, NJ
  9. Swastika vandalism at Princeton University – Princeton University
  10. Swastikas and messages blaming Jews for 9/11- Rutgers University
  11. Victim harassed after converting to Judaism – Lawrence Township
  12. Swastika drawing and “Hitler Rules” in bathroom – Bradley Beach Borough
  13. Victim harassed verbally and physically for being Jewish – Bergenfield
  14. Swastika found at yogurt shop – Tenafly
  15. Anti-Semitic drawings found in Airport Diner – Wantage
  16. Swastikas drawn around campus – Rutgers New Brunswick University
  17. White supremacist flyers on campus – Randolph
  18. Students throw coins at Jewish student – Evesham Township
  19. City-owned menorahs vandalized during Hanukkah – Margate
  20. Anti-Semitic graffiti on playground – Manalapan
  21. Hiking trails vandalized with Swastikas – Millburn
  22. Swastika graffiti found on handrail at park – Ridgewood Village
  23. Swastikas found on elementary school playground – Caldwell
  24. Person uses torch to burn swastika on public property – Howell
  25. Swastikas etched in hockey glass- Highlands Borough
  26. Swastika graffiti on NJ Transit bus- North Bergen
  27. Swastika found painted on street – Jackson
  28. Swastika spray-painted on sidewalk- Ocean Township
  29. Firefighter finds swastika drawn on locker – Plainfield
  30. Students finds “Heil Hitler” written on desk – Randolph
  31. Swastika carved into classroom bulletin board – Hackensack
  32. Swastika and innapporiate language against Jewish people found in middle school bathroom – Edison
  33. Swastika carved into drum in elementary school – East Brunswick
  34. Students posted drawings of swastikas on Snapchat – Cresskill
  35. Large swastika traced in snow – Fair Lawn
  36. Jewish resident victim of verbal anti-Semitic harrassment by another resident – Fort Lee
  37. Mezuzah ripped from Jewish resident’s doorpost – Montclair