SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — All around the country, we’ve seen instances of antisemitism at pro-Israel and Jewish faith events as well as on college campuses.
Since the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7, Jewish people have been mourning, but some have also been dealing with antisemitic threats.
Here in Savannah, leaders at Jewish organizations and houses of worship say they’re taking additional security measures as a result.
“All the synagogues here have off-duty police officers at all public services. It’s just the way it is at this point in life,” Adam Solender, CEO of Savannah Jewish Federation and Jewish Educational Alliance, said.
Self-defense classes and Stop the Bleed training are just a few of the events leaders in the Jewish community have hosted for anyone who would like to be prepared in case of violence.
Officials with the Savannah Jewish Federation say that on the day violence erupted in Israel last month, police cars were stationed outside every Jewish organization in the city just in case.
Although they say there have not been any threats to Savannah’s Jewish population so far, with a large event coming up on Sunday, the Jewish Food Festival, they tell me there will be additional security.
But Adam Solender, CEO of the Savannah Jewish Federation, says he doesn’t want people in the Jewish community to live in fear.
“We’re at a time where people live in silos. They live on the internet. They see things, they hear things, and that’s what drives fear. So, you know, the important thing is that you live your life, be safe, you make sure that your surroundings are safe…be aware of where you are, and go about your life,” he said.
Several people who I spoke to say they believe misinformation on social media is one of the biggest causes of antisemitism.
“The hardest thing is that people are hiding behind screens or behind masks when they are saying these harsh, antisemitic things because we can’t confront them,” Zachary Levy, Vice President of SCAD Hillel, said.
Nevertheless, Levy says it’s important for people in the Jewish community to not be afraid to speak out.
“I don’t feel threatened, but I know a couple of people – of students – that are and didn’t want to go to class, but I decided I should stick my ground as a proud jew. So, I constantly continue to share pro-Israeli stuff on my social media. I started wearing my Star of David again. I started to call out protestors that were maybe getting misinformation,” he said.
“Antisemitism, there’s been an unprecedented rise in the last 90 days, but really it’s been a trend line for the last 5 years,” Solender said.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish international organization, there were a total of 312 antisemitic incidents across the U.S. Between oct, 7 and oct, 23 – almost a 400 percent increase from this time last year.