Gilbert rabbi reacts to latest AJC’s ‘State of Antisemitism in America’ report

By Micaela Marshall

 new report released this week by the American Jewish Committee highlights antisemitism is on the rise at an alarming rate in the U.S.

Rabbi Shimi Ash of the Chabad Jewish Center of Gilbert said the new data is startling but not surprising amid the Israel-Hamas war. “It’s very striking. It’s very disturbing,” said Rabbi Ash. “Silence is complicity.”

For the last five years, the AJC has conducted parallel surveys with American Jews and the general population to gauge the state of antisemitism in the United States. This year’s research was collected during the fall of 2023, starting just days before the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, which is considered the deadliest assault against Jews since the Holocaust. “We put an emphasis on added security. Prior to Oct. 7, we never actually had any form of security. We live in Gilbert. It’s one of the safest places in the United States,” said Rabbi Ash.

During the survey, the Israel-Hamas War was top of mind, and 78% of respondents said it’s made them feel less safe as a Jewish person in the U.S. In a different question, 63% of American Jews said they feel less secure than they did a year ago and that fear is a trend that continues to grow, more than doubling in the last two years. “I think the results are very skewed towards post-Oct. 7,” said Rabbi Ash. “The uptick in feelings that Jews have is definitely specifically as a result of Oct. 7.”

But there is more awareness. The report reveals that 74% of all Americans agree antisemitism is a problem, and 92% believe it is something that affects society as a whole and is everyone’s responsibility to combat. “The vast, vast majority of Americans, of people in the Western world, are people who respect others, who have no prejudice against anyone of any religion,” said Rabbi Ash.

Rabbi Ash said since the war started, he’s been seeing a surge of people renewing their faith and expressing interest in deepening their connection to Judaism. He said synagogues and Jewish classes continue to be full.

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