A record amount of anti-Semitic incidents were documented across the nation last year, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League.

The anti-hate organization recorded 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents, the highest count since ADL began tracking incidents in 1979. This also marked a 12 percent increase from the 1,879 incidents recorded in 2018.

According to the organization’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, which was released Tuesday, the vast majority of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. were not tied to extremists.

In 2019, 270 anti-Semitic incidents were attributed to known extremists groups or individuals, which represents just 13 percent of the total amount of incidents nationwide.

In a Zoom conference call earlier this week, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt stressed that the overall level of hate in society cannot be measured through high profile and lethal incidents, alone.

He emphasized the fact that other incidents must be taken into account, including those that involve Jewish students being ostracized on a college campus for supporting Israel or swastikas being scratched into public bathrooms.

“If we hope to put a lid back on the sewers of hate,” Greenblatt said. “We must not only fight criminal activity, but the apathy that comes when anti-Semitism is normalized.”

Of last year’s total, 91 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Florida, the audit shows.

Anti-Semitic incidents in Florida increased 20 percent from the 76 incidents documented in 2018. The report found that there were surges in assaults and harassment incidents throughout the state.

With anti-Semitic incidents on the rise, Rabbi Winston Weilheimer of Congregation Beth Shalom in Deltona noted that it was imperative to combat hate through education.

“I think there needs to be more dialogue between people,” he said. “Hate is something that is transmitted from one generation to the next, and a lot of it stems from ignorance or fear.

“There needs to be more openness between people,” he said.

In Volusia County, there was one alarming incident reported to the anti-hate organization.

In August 2019, a DeLand man threatened to shoot up a synagogue after a Jewish man rejected his romantic advances. One month later, the FBI arrested the jilted man, identified as Hanson Richard Larkin, 26, and charged him with making threats using interstate communication.

Larkin has waived his indictment and plead guilty to the charge, court documents show. His sentencing hearing has been set for June 4 at 2 p.m. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The rise in incidents across the state has led to increased security measures at local synagogues, like Congregation B’Nai Torah in Ormond Beach.

With services now offered through Zoom amid the coronavirus pandemic, the congregation has taken steps to prevent others from interrupting its online services with antisemitic acts.

Rabbi Steven David Kane noted that Zoom meeting numbers are not published online, and members must receive an invitation to participate in services.

“We have become more cautious,” he said.


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