Two Studies - April 29, 2022

This past week, 41 people, half from our local Jewish community and half from the local African-American community, participated in an educational and inspiring civil rights trip to Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham. The trip was a partnership between the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, led by Pastor Matt Hennessee.
Among the highlights were a visit to Brian Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Memorial and Museum in Montgomery. The memorial is dedicated to the memory of the more than 4,400 African-Americans who were the victims of racial terrorism. The group also met with Joanne Bland, who survived “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma (which the group walked across) in March 1965. She was only 11 years old at the time. The trip wrapped up in Birmingham, hearing from Bishop Calvin Wallace Woods, now 88, a distinguished leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Look for more details in the next issue of the Jewish Review.
We just commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a beautiful service on Wednesday evening and the annual “Reading of the Names” yesterday at Pioneer Square. As Rabbi Moshe Hauer, Executive Director of the Orthodox Union wrote, “The Holocaust continues to cast its long shadow over our world. We do well to recall what the world appears to have forgotten. It has forgotten the dangers of antisemitism, the voracious hunger of the despot, and the crime of silence and passivity in the face of evil."
This ties in to one of two very important Jewish community studies that were released this week.
First, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a new report noting the number of antisemitic incidents in the United States reached an all-time high in 2021. The 2,717 incidents identified in news articles by the ADL or reported to the ADL directly in 2021 represent a 34% increase from 2020. The ADL began publishing annual counts in 1979.
Anything from a slur to a terror attack can be included in the tally. For the second straight year, 2021 thankfully saw no fatal incidents tied to antisemitism in the United States, but the ADL counted 88 antisemitic assaults, a 167% increase from the 33 assaults in the 2020.
The ADL also documented 297 incidents linked to the May 2021 round of deadly clashes between Israel and Hamas, many of which made national headlines at the time. “Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.
More than any single factor, Greenblatt said the overall increase in antisemitic incidents can be linked to political instability and polarization.
It is important to note that this year, the ADL included reports from six other organizations: the Community Security Initiative, Community Security Service, Hillel International, Secure Community Network, Union of Reform Judaism, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. These groups were responsible for identifying 494 incidents, or 18% of the total.
The report includes several policy recommendations, including encouraging civic leaders to speak out against antisemitism and hatred, increased government funding for security at Jewish institutions, hate crime and anti-bullying training for law enforcement and students, and improvements to the collection of hate crime data.
Almost eight decades have passed since the concentration camps were liberated, but the scourge of antisemitism remains with us. We must remember and ensure that others do not forget. We pledge “Never Again.”
In addition, the American Jewish Committee released multiple surveys on American and Israeli Jewish millennialsThe surveys “highlight the perspectives, attitudes, and opinions of Millennial American and Israeli Jews. The surveys' results provide a richer understanding of the social, cultural, religious, and identity implications for the Millennial demographic – and the Jewish community as a whole – and highlight the commonalities and differences of young adults in each region.”
The surveys of U.S. and Israeli Jewish millennials found that most of the American respondents feel a connection to Israel is important to their Jewish identity, and most Israeli respondents want a closer connection with American Jews. Here are some other key points that should make us think more about future generations:
  • 54% of American Jewish Millennials (AJM) feel being connected to Israel is important to their Jewish identity.
  • 73% of AJMs and 89% of Israeli Jewish Millennials (IJM) feel it is important that the American Jewish Community and Israel maintain close ties.
  • 80% of AJMs and 69% of IJMs feel a strong Jewish community outside of Israel is necessary to the survival of Israel.
  • 54% of AJMs feel it is appropriate for American Jews to try to influence Israeli policy while 70% of IJMs feel it is inappropriate.
  • 52% of AJMs believe there is a viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while 29% are unsure. Only 24% of IJMs feel there is a viable solution with 20% unsure.
Unsure if these results are surprising, but important for us to understand as we continue to explore Israel-Diaspora relations. You can read the survey results here.
On May 4th we will commemorate Israel's fallen with Yom HaZikaron, and on May 5th we will celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut and Israel’s 74th birthday. Our community’s celebration will take place this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center with great Israeli food (for purchase) and an incredible free concert starting at 1:00 p.m. with the premier Israeli music cover band, TLV!
Shabbat shalom.


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