Oct 31, 2023
Combatting Antisemitism: Federation Remains Front and Center
Since Hamas’ brutal terror attack, reports of antisemitic incidents have risen nearly 400 percent compared to this time last year, according to the ADL. This virulent increase in Jew hatred is occurring globally and has grown remarkably worse online.
Through a number of avenues, Federation works to ensure the security of our Jewish community. As we have watched violent antisemitic acts skyrocket, especially on college campuses and universities around the country, the safety of Jewish college students has become a critical issue. Debbie Pine, Campus Support Director with Hillel International, said, “Students are really scared. They feel isolated, alone and fearful. Some are afraid to leave their dorm room and go to the library. Some face harassment and intimidation in class."
According to Pine, since October 7, campus Hillels have become "beacons of safety and community," offering numerous vigils, crisis counseling, special Shabbats, candlelightings, challah bakes, cooking class fundraisers and more. The UM and FSU Hillels even brought in therapy dogs to comfort scared and grieving students, while Central Florida Hillel scheduled a “Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate,” gathering, despite a rally organized by the Palestinian Student Association planned to counter the event. Central Florida Hillel also set an empty Shabbat table to bring attention to the 230 hostages that are still being held captive by Hamas.
Pine added, "Many students who have never engaged with Hillel have come forward in search of Jewish community in these challenging times. I am proud of the dedication of our Hillel professionals, who have worked countless hours to make Hillel an open, welcoming and truly safe space for Jewish exploration, learning and celebration for all students."
Beyond protecting their student body, Hillels across the state have also organized numerous virtual and in-person gatherings to reassure concerned parents and discuss support services, resources and extra security measures recently enacted.
Donations to the Annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation/UJA Campaign help fund seven Florida Hillels year-round, including Central Florida Hillel, Hillel at FIU, Hillel at FSU, Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, UF Hillel and UM Hillel.
On the advocacy front, Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council is encouraging our elected officials to support expanded funding for Jewish institutions through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. This initiative helps ensure the protection of Jewish and other faith-based community institutions. Click here to access a form that easily enables you to contact your representative and express your support. The situation is urgent and every voice matters.
Additionally, working with the Secure Community Network (SCN), the official security organization for the Jewish community in North America, and more than 40 other Jewish federations, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation launched a new online form, available here, and via an alert bar at the top of JewishMiami.org for the public to report threats, incidents and suspicious activity related to Jewish organizations, facilities or community members. Information reported through the form is sent immediately to Federation’s security professionals and the 24-hour Duty Desk in SCN’s National Jewish Security Operations Command Center, where SCN’s team of intelligence analysts are available to support local Federation security initiatives. Credible threats are referred to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and Jewish facility leaders as needed.
James Somohano, Greater Miami Jewish Federation Director of Community Security, said, “The new incident reporting form is yet one more tool we can use to assist and collaborate with local and federal law enforcement officials in prosecuting hate crimes against members of our community.”
The new form can be used to report in-person assaults or threats; suspicious persons or activity; property damage or vandalism; threatening or suspicious phone calls, text messages, or social media; suspicious packages or letters; spam and phishing emails; antisemitic or threatening flyers; or other similar incidents of concern to the Jewish community.
To learn more about how you can help support Israel during the war, visit our Israel Resource Page here.