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Jewish Americans feel targeted amid antisemitism, Israel-Hamas war

According to the Anti-Defamation League, reports of antisemitic acts in the U.S. have quadrupled since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out.
Jewish Americans feel targeted amid antisemitism, Israel-Hamas war
Posted at 1:36 PM, Nov 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-22 14:37:17-05

In any minority group there's an inherent sense of pride for one's culture, and for those who identify as Jewish it's no different. But ever since the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on Oct. 7, that identity has been shaken, as reports of antisemitism rise to levels not seen in decades. 

The Anti-Defamation League says reports of antisemitic acts in the United States have quadrupled since Hamas' attack on Israel. And Jewish Americans are in a place many have never felt to this degree before. 

As they reckon with politics in their cultural homeland, they also reckon with the consequences of those politics here in their physical homeland of the United States. For many, it has made them feel targeted.

"As Jews in America, we may not be as safe as we felt a month ago, two months ago," explained Rabbi Sarah Shulman. "But the fact that last week my husband came home and asked if we should get 3M film on the windows of our house, there's that deep sense of fear. Am I safe? What does it mean? Can I wear a kippah, a head covering, as a Jew out in public?"

SEE MORE: With rise of antisemitism, more Jewish Americans are purchasing guns

However, just as much as there may be fear, many also still feel a sense of pride. Amir Kaufman is an Israeli American whose father was a Holocaust survivor. For him, that pride runs deep in family history. 

"I've been feeling that this is not a time to bow down, it's a time to stand up," Kaufman explained. 

As for Kaufman's wife — who is also Israeli American — she also shares that feeling of pride, but recognizes that these are unstable times for their community. 

"I don't want people to see us [and say] 'Oh, you're Jews,'" added Amir's wife Gitit Kaufman. "I'm here to protect my daughters. Although they're going with a star of David to their public school daily, I'm like, 'Hey, can you just hide that?'" 

SEE MORE: How the Israel-Hamas war is impacting American universities

However, the feeling of pride also stretches to Jews born in the United States, too.

"During World War II, people had to wear the yellow star of David," explained Jewish-American Terri Auerbach. "They made it a yellow badge of shame and instead it's like, 'No, this is who I am. I'm sorry if you don't like it. It's who I am. It's what I believe. It's who I am to my core."

These are feelings that will not soon dissipate. They are conversations that will not soon end. But they are important ones to have, as it's the only way to reach a peace — that underneath everything — people like Shulman feel is inevitable.

"There's many conflicting emotions and it's one of the reasons why — although it's easy to go insular, to hide, to only connect with Jewish people at this moment — we've been really pushing our community through a lot of interfaith work, and specifically with the Muslim community, to actually reach out at this time," Shulman said. "Which may be counterintuitive, but it's one of the few pathways that we can really find towards healing."


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