By Charly SHELTON
There has been a rise in anti-Semitic threats in the last two months. Since the beginning of 2017, there have been more than 100 incidents across the country, the Jewish Community Centers of North America reports. There have been reports of cemetery desecrations in Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, with approximately 100 headstones in each cemetery toppled and broken. Swastikas were carved into cars parked along the streets of a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Miami. And there were 100 total bomb threats in January and February at 81 locations in 33 states, as well as two Canadian provinces. The nearest threats so far have been a Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, which received a bomb threat and was evacuated on Jan. 31, and the Westside JCC in the Miracle Mile of LA, which received a threat and was evacuated on Monday.
“I think that while we haven’t received any [threats] locally, the fact is that they’re happening,” said Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. “There has been a renewed sense of fear for the community. Synagogues are stepping up their approach to security and I think everyone is taking the opportunity to review what to do in the event of a threat or any form of attack in the community. Community members are a little more alarmed because there has been no end to this and, in fact, there has been an increase over the last few weeks. And in many cases, because they’re hitting a little closer to home, it’s beginning to be a little bit more alarming.”
California is not as immune to the anti-Semitic attacks as one would hope. Seven of the 100 incidents were in California – in Long Beach, Irvine, LA, La Jolla, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Rafael. In this historically progressive and left-leaning state, we have had more attacks than any other state except Florida. Granted, California is a large state, but this figure is still shocking.
“I think this [creates] much more a sense of fear because there’s no end in sight right now,” Moss said.
Despite threats and vandalism, the Jewish community is rallying together to stay strong. Through events and workshops, like the workshop the JFGSGPV is holding on Sunday titled “How Global Events Impact Our Lives: Tools for Coping,” community leaders hope to give lessons and faith to those who may be intimidated by the recent threats.
“It’s a reminder that, in times like this, while it’s natural to be scared, the fact is that the Jewish organization is really taking the opportunity to fortify itself in its procedures and policies to make sure that everyone who walks through the door of its institution is safe. Thankfully none of these threats have brought about any type of incident, unlike with the desecration of the cemetery where there are definitely acts of harm to the tombstones and final resting place of loved ones,” Moss added. “But I think for the Crescenta Valley community and really the Jewish community all over is the sense that we are watching, we are engaged with local police officers in law-enforcement so that if and when – I think it’s not an if – it’s when our community sees a threat, we are prepared to handle it as effectively as possible.”
For more information on the workshop or any of the programs and resources available, visit JewishSGPV.org.