The Buzzer

The Student News Site of Hastings High School

The Buzzer

The Buzzer

Tell us your thoughts!

What types of articles would you like to see next publication?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Antisemitism in Westchester
A roadmap for America. AJC. (2023, September 29).

October 7, 2023, the date of Hamas’ invasion of Israel, was a devastating day for the Jewish community; Jews all around the world were indirectly impacted by the effects of this tragedy. According to the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-Jewish hate organization, the US has seen a disconcerting 337% increase in antisemitic incidents between October 7, 2023 and December 7, 2023. In New York alone, the NYPD has reported a 214% rise in hate crimes targeting the Jewish community since early October. According to the Westchester Jewish Council, Westchester is home to about 150,000 Jews , making up 15% of the county’s population. Taking into account the fact that Jewish people make up only 0.2% of the world’s population, this number is considerably large. Due to Westchester’s robust Jewish population, communities tend to brush off the fact that antisemitism truly is prevalent everywhere ⎼ even in their own neighborhoods. 

Regardless of the fact that few major antisemitic events have occurred in and around Westchester, many smaller incidents have taken place but gone under the radar. At Carmel High School in Putnam County, a student was arrested for scratching both a swastika and “Adolf Hitler” into the school’s tennis courts. Additionally, a swastika was found scratched into a table leg at the high school. Similarly, at Mahopac Middle School, also in Putnam County, several swastikas were drawn in a bathroom, but the students who drew them remain undiscovered. In a more overt incident that occurred at the Leffell School, a Jewish private school, during a girls basketball game, players from the opposing team became violent and began shouting antisemitic remarks directed at Leffell’s team. As a result, the decision was made to halt the game without finishing it. 

In light of the recent surge in antisemitism, numerous equity and inclusivity-focused organizations have publicly denounced such acts. However, in New Castle, a town in Westchester County, the Committee on Race, Equity, and Inclusion refused to do so. In protest, every single member of the committee stepped down from their respective positions. Historically, Jewish people have been a target of hate. We can see this occurring today as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas. However, regardless of one’s stance on the war, it is unacceptable to express hatred towards the Jewish community as a whole as seen in and around Westchester.

Despite these events, there is not enough being done in individual communities to combat the issue of antisemitism. A woman who was born and raised in Israel (named Adina in this article to protect her privacy) revealed in an interview that she experienced war firsthand when growing up. Adina stressed the importance of having accurate and well-informed dialogues when discussing the current conflict in the Middle East. She stated that “it is okay to criticize Israel, it is okay to criticize Hamas, but it is not okay to call for the destruction and harm of all Jewish people.” She then went on to speak about the pressing issue of discussing modern antisemitism. Generally, the focus of conversations around antisemitism have revolved around the Holocaust. Adina suggested that it is becoming increasingly necessary to acknowledge how antisemitism has changed and take a different approach to combat it. She suggested that schools incorporate more of the Jewish and Israeli story into their curriculums, have assemblies to educate students about modern antisemitism, and train teachers on ways to speak about antisemitism in the classroom without any biases coming into the conversation. 

At colleges in Westchester County, steps similar to the ones suggested by Adina have already started to be taken. Hillels of Westchester, an organization for Jewish college students, has suggested that six colleges in the county ⎼ Iona University, Manhattanville College, Pace University, Purchase College, Sarah Lawrence College, and SUNY Westchester Community College ⎼ mandate media literacy training, review their bias teaching procedures, and develop an effective plan of action that advocates for Jewish students at the universities and ensures that they feel safe on campus. The action being taken is necessary in all school settings, not only colleges, in order to combat antisemitism and protect Jewish students. 

Raising awareness for antisemitism, which is ever so prevalent in the modern world, is vital in creating inclusive environments within communities. To effectively combat antisemitism, each and every community must work together to speak out against hatred and advocate for the 150,000 Jewish people that live in Westchester.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Buzzer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *