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Anti-Semitic incidents surging in Texas and the U.S. | Together We Rise

Jewish families respond to the uptick in anti-Semitic hate in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO — Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise across the country and state, and we are not immune in San Antonio. 

What once was a random act of hate has now become a regular occurrence with hate propaganda showing up outside homes, to an anti-Semitic rally outside a local shopping center.

“Anti-Semitism has increased significantly over the last few years and particularly last year," Anti Defamation League, Southwest Regional Director, Mark Toubin said. 

To the more violent acts of hate not only being seen across the U.S. but also in Texas. 

“Nationally we are seeing a dramatic increase. Somewhere north of 30%," Toubin said. "In Texas that increase is going to be higher."

In the Southwest region of the state, which includes San Antonio, anti-Semitic hate has nearly tripled over the last year  according to the Anti Defamation League.

A recent report released by ADL Southwest,  found that 39 incidents of anti-Semitism were reported in 2021, that's compared to just 14 in the Southwest Region of Texas in 2020.

“These incidents involve harassment, vandalism and even assault,” Toubin said. 

Unfortunately for the Jewish community this type of hate has been endured generation after generation. 

“Growing up Jewish you kind of experience anti-Semitism from time-to-time. There’s always the undercurrent," Brian Feld said. "It certainly does seem the last few years it’s gotten more vocal and present."

Nammie Ichilov, with the San Antonio Jewish Federation, also keeping track of the uptick, but says this type of hatred has been happening to Jews for the last 5,000 years. 

“The Jewish community has always been a scapegoat for people’s personal troubles," San Antonio Jewish Federation, President & CEO, Nammie Ichilov said. "I don’t necessarily think there are more anti-Semitic people today …I think the difference is now there is a lot more in your face anti-Semitism."

Leaving many Jews looking over their shoulders when practicing their faith or even out in the community. 

"It’s more sad than anything because you are just worried about your children and your family,” Jennifer Kovo said. “I don’t know how many other groups need to think about these things when celebrating their culture."

While also hiding in plain sight. 

“We kind of blend in a lot easier than other minority groups who have been the subject of hatred and discrimination. Certainly my black friends they can’t hide their identities and we have a few Muslim neighbors they can’t hide their identity," Feld said.

But there is shame that comes with it. 

"My 13 year-old son from the time he was very little he made the choice to wear a Kippah every day, it's a religious symbol and it identifies him as Jewish. So my wife and I, we actually sat down with him...and we told him we were really proud of him that he wears a Kippah, but that there are going to be times when we asking him to take it off or wear a baseball cap over it to hide his Jewish identity," Feld said. "It was a really shameful day for us. I was embarrassed, I was telling my Jewish kid to not be proud of his Judaism, but as a father I didn't want him to be a target.”

16 year-old, Elad Kovo, experiencing his first encounter with prejudice when attending public high school. 

"They make jokes, some people would even take my Kippah off and throw it around like a frisbee, and some kids would even Nazi salute me in the hallway," Elad Kovo said.

But the Jewish community members we spoke with all agreeing that there is only one way to battle with way of thinking. 

"I think if people were just more educated on the horrors that can happen by this baseless hatred, maybe it would not be as prolific as it was," Jennifer Kovo said. 

Education, leading to changed hearts, so the Jewish community can also live a life free of hate and fear. 

“It’s important to not be a bystander, it’s important to be an upstander. It’s really important that when things like this happen we have an option we can ignore it and we can treat it like It’s not important, or we can act upon it and we can actually make sure that these kinds of behaviors are not accepted in our community. And gratefully San Antonio community has really stepped up, we’ve seen that." Ichilov said.

If you experience or see any anti-Semitic, bias, hateful or racist incidents you are encourage to report them not only with your local law enforcement but also with the Anti Defamation League.

The Jewish Federation of San Antonio and ADL encourages education when these types of anti-Semitic incidents occur.

JFSA tells us the San Antonio Holocaust Memorial Museum is a great resource for our community.

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