Jewish Federation launches media campaign to battle rise of antisemitism in New Jersey
Members of the Jewish community are trying to do something to put a stop to a rise in antisemitic incidents in New Jersey.
The Anti-Defamation League says that hate crimes are on the rise in the Garden State, with 370 incidents in the state in 2021 alone.
The League says there were 88 assaults on Jewish individuals, and hundreds of acts of vandalism and harassment.
“Unfortunately, not a surprise,” says Mark Merkovitz, Director of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks. “We’ve seen this trend for a decade.”
Merkovitz says those of the Jewish faith make up 2% of the American population, yet are the victims of 60% of all religious hate crimes.
One of those incidents happened at a Jewish fraternity at Rutgers University. It happened while marking Yom Hashoah, a ceremony to honor those lost in the Holocaust.
“And they had eggs pelted on their building while they were reading the names of Holocaust survivors,” Merkovitz says.
The Jewish Federation wants to start a conversation about antisemitism. Incidents in Mercer County are up 93%. The federation has put up billboards with slogans like “Can a billboard stop antisemitism? No. But you’re not a billboard.”
Another one says, “Here's an idea, let's ask everyone who's wondering if Jew hate is real to wear a yarmulke for a week, and report back."
The media campaign is about creating awareness of what it's like to live as a Jewish person in Mercer County, with the hope of finding some understanding and acceptance.
“One, we need to educate. We need to have the conversation. And on the other hand, we have to let our kids feel good about being Jewish, not run away from being Jewish,” Merkovitz says.
He says the goal is to also promote pride among those who are Jewish. May is Jewish Heritage Month. There will be a celebration in Princeton on May 15. All are welcome to attend.