Security Forum

Response to Antisemitism: A Shabbat Message

Response to Antisemitism: A Shabbat Message

December 9, 2022

It is a message we have shared before and one that, sadly, we will no doubt need to share again.

Antisemitism is on the rise. Incidents are increasing across the globe, in our nation and even in our local Detroit community. The facts are stark: According to 2020 FBI hate crime statistics, Jews—who make up a little more the 2% of the U.S. population—were the targets of 54.9% of all religiously motivated hate crimes. In 2021, a record number of antisemitic incidents were recorded in the U.S., according to the ADL, growing 34% over the previous year.

In Detroit, we have experienced a series of disturbing incidents, including acts of vandalism, harassment, and phone threats to our schools and other community institutions. Last week, as many of you are aware, an individual drove into the lot at Temple Beth El and began verbally harassing preschool parents and staff with anti-Israel hate speech and racial slurs. Thankfully, he has been arrested and charged with multiple felonies.

Our response begins with vigilance. We are fortunate to have strong resources in place to keep our community safe, starting with Jewish Community Security, Inc. (JCSI), an organization established by Federation to ensure the safety of the Detroit Jewish community. Highly trained and experienced officers are stationed at Jewish Day Schools, summer camps, campuses and buildings throughout the community. The JCSI team also assists Jewish institutions across the community by providing consultation, education, and training to instill a culture of safety and awareness.

A key aspect of our community’s security infrastructure is JCSI’s active partnership with local and national law enforcement entities as well as the Jewish community security programs across the region. While we know that many individuals are concerned about the police response to the incident at Temple Beth El, we also know that law enforcement is highly committed to the unique threats we face as a community and have been strong partners to us in all our efforts. In addition, we are very grateful for the significantly increased funding provided by the federal Non-Profit Security Grant Program to help secure Jewish and faith-based institutions.

We are also heartened and grateful for the outpouring of support from members of other communities of faith in metro Detroit, including the Muslim, Catholic and African American communities. The forces of tolerance and mutual respect are far greater than the hatred which seeks to divide us (you can read some of these messages here).

To better inform community members about our response to antisemitic threats and other security concerns, we are hosting a Community Forum next Wednesday at 7:30 PM, at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills. The forum will offer attendees a chance to hear from and ask questions of community leaders and security professionals, as well as representatives of local law enforcement. The Bloomfield Township Police Chief will be on hand to debrief last Friday’s incident.

RSVP: Forum on Jewish Community Security

We’d like to offer one final but important message, a reminder that there is another essential response to hatred and antisemitism: We must continue to worship together at our synagogues and temples, learn at our schools and embrace our heritage and culture at institutions across the city. We will never be defined by acts of hate, nor will we allow antisemitism to undermine the richness of our communal life.

Our strength and resilience as a people have often been tested but have never wavered. We will continue to live vibrant and meaningful Jewish lives. As we like to say, the best response of all is to “Just do Jewish.”

As always, we thank the community for your extraordinary engagement and commitment to our collective welfare. May the Sabbath offer a window of warmth and light to you and your loved ones and may this be a time of peace in our community.

Shabbat Shalom.

Matthew B. Lester
President, Jewish Federation of Detroit

Dennis S. Bernard
President, United Jewish Foundation

Steven Ingber
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation of Detroit

”If you see something, say something.” Please report any suspicious activity to law enforcement and to JCSI

Thank you for your partnership in keeping our community safe.
As the year comes to a close, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the 2023 Annual Campaign. There is no better way to ensure the welfare of our community and build a brighter Jewish future for all.

DONATE here.



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