Leaders discuss growing trend of antisemitism

NOW: Leaders discuss growing trend of antisemitism

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- Antisemitism is on the rise in America, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), but the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley reports half of Americans don't know what it is.

That's why they brought the conversation to Michiana, hosting "The State of Anti-Semitism" Tuesday night at the St. Joseph County Public Library in downtown South Bend.

Dozens, including local Jewish leaders, South Bend Mayor James Mueller and common council members, and even the bishop of the Fort-Wayne South Bend Diocese, came out to hear the presentation.

"I was just the other, the foreigner," said Daniel Ravitch, director of programming, for the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, "even though, born and raised, fifth generation in my home."

Ravitch grew up in Benton Harbor and said he was the only Jewish student in school.

"It was tough to be confronted with so much anger and misunderstanding," he said, "so I started teaching."

Now, with the Federation, Ravitch tries to build understanding as a way to fight antisemitism.

"Show people that we're just another member of the community," he said.

At Tuesday's "State of Antisemitism" event, guest speaker Trent Spoolstra shared a new report from the ADL. Spoolstra is the associate regional director for ADL Midwest and a Notre Dame alum.

"Based on our estimates, about 20% of Americans hold some type of antisemitic prejudice," Spoolstra said.

One local rabbi tells ABC57 that Michiana is largely respectful of all religions but it doesn't stop the call to be an ally against hate.

"Understand that antisemitism is on the rise in the United States, but then equally important, regardless if you are Jewish or not Jewish, being an ally and speaking up," Spoolstra said. "We don't have to see this rise in antisemitism."

This upcoming Monday, the South Bend Common Council is discussing a resolution to stand against antisemitism, promote inclusivity and push for Holocaust education.

That resolution can be found below.

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