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April 21, 2024 10:43 am

Local News

Pennsylvania Takes Stand Against Antisemitism

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Danielle Smith, Producer

Thursday, June 29, 2023   

Pennsylvania, like many other states, has not been immune to the recent wave of antisemitic acts and rhetoric – and the state is working to prevent incidents of antisemitism. 

Research by the Anti-Defamation League recorded 349 incidents in Pennsylvania in 2022 – a 23% decrease from the 473 incidents in 2021

Hilary Levine, associate director for the American Jewish Committee’s Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey Regional Office, said the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism plan is a step in the right direction. 

She pointed out that safety in Jewish communities is a top priority in the national plan.

“Essentially,” said Levine, “the president wants to boost federal funding to help Jewish institutions offset their own costs of bolstering physical security – let’s say, of synagogues, Jewish community centers, cultural organizations, etc.”

Levine added that the national strategy includes more than 100 action items that federal agencies can take and 100 more that institutions such as universities and local governments can take on to combat antisemitism.

Levine said another important aspect of the national strategy is a focus on the needs of Jewish students from kindergarten all the way through higher education. 

She noted that the national strategy calls on states, cities, and school districts to expand information, digital, and media literacy education – to address online misinformation and disinformation, including those related to antisemitism.

“Included in the strategy is a piece saying that the Department of Education should launch an awareness campaign for elementary schools through college,” said Levine, “highlighting those schools’ obligation to seriously address complaints of harassment based on essentially Jewish ancestry.”

Levine said if you see something, then say something and report antisemitism incidents to Pennsylvania law enforcement and the statewide Human Relations Commission which tracks and responds to hate crimes. 

She added that the Anti-Defamation League also tracks antisemitic crimes and can help direct individuals to the correct law enforcement office in their community.

This story first appeared in Public News Service, a member-supported news site to engage, educate and advocate for the public interest.