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Opinion: ‘If you are Jewish, stand tall’

(Graphic by Caitlyn Patel)

Over this past Shabbat (Saturday), a group of hateful antisemites gathered outside my local shopping center at Waterford Lakes. They yelled “heil Hitler” across from the Target I regularly shop at. They waved flags decorated with swastikas near my favorite Italian ice store. They held up signs that read “the Jews are behind it all,” opposite the movie theater I visit so often. 

Nothing feels worse than that.

My name is Didi, and I am an Orthodox Jew who goes to the University of Central Florida (UCF). This weekend’s antisemitic demonstration took place just three miles away from UCF’s main campus, which, keep in mind, is a hub for nearly six thousand Jewish students

When I checked my phone this past Saturday night, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How could a group of Nazis gather in public so assertively? So confidently? 

It could happen because antisemitism has never really been gone. Just last May, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported a 75 percent increase in antisemitism. And before that, 2019 and 2020 were, respectively, the highest and third-highest years on record for cases of harassment, vandalism, and assault against Jews in the US since tracking began in 1979.

Last year saw a Jewish FSU student’s dorm vandalized with swastikas and the word “Nazi.” In late May, the Florida Holocaust museum was vandalized with swastikas and the phrase “Jews are guilty.” A few weeks ago, a terrorist held a synagogue hostage for over eight hours.  And now, Jewish UCF students had to see literal Nazis gather outside their community. 

I speak on behalf of all American Jews when I say we are tired. 

That’s what I felt this past Saturday night. Sure, I felt anxious, angry, and disgusted. But I was also tired of another antisemetic story in the news, and this time so close to home. But do not get us confused; we aren’t scared. We aren’t scared because that is exactly what they want us to feel. 

My call to action is the following: If you are Jewish, stand tall. Don’t put your Yarmulke in your pocket and don’t hide your Star of David necklace under your shirt. Because at the end of the day, those who seek to scare us are nothing. They are worthless. And they certainly won’t be stopping me from being a proud Jew any time soon. 

If you aren’t Jewish, you have an important role, too. You ought to stand up and stand against antisemitism wherever you see it. How is it that Jews make up roughly two percent of the US population, and yet were named the No. 1 target of religious hate crimes this past year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)?

The Jewish community needs you to lend your voice. Now, more than ever.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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