Scott Richman

This Year, Lessons of Passover Hit Home

Tonight, Jewish communities around the world will gather around a seder table to celebrate Passover and mark the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt. This year, the themes of perseverance and resiliency in the face of adversity will be particularly resonant. 

Antisemitism has existed for millennia, yet what Jews are experiencing now is unique – this year the American Jewish community is facing historic levels of antisemitism. ADL’s 2023 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents showed record-breaking numbers of antisemitic incidents across the United States, with a shocking 8,873 antisemitic incidents documented nationwide (a 140% increase compared to the record previously set in 2022). We documented increases across all major categories – harassment, vandalism and assault. This is a national emergency and should be a wake-up call to everyone. 

In New York alone, there were 1,218 antisemitic incidents, more than double the previous record set in the state in 2022. Reports of incidents of antisemitic harassment and vandalism increased sharply. Although reported incidents of antisemitic assault decreased by 25% (from 72 in 2022 to 54 in 2023), this is still the second highest number ever recorded in New York and the most of any state across the country. 

Sixty-three percent of these incidents (767) took place in the five boroughs of New York City, including an appalling 51 assaults, making it the metropolitan area with the highest incidents per capita. 

Of particular concern was the explosion of antisemitic incidents after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. Between 10/7/23 and 12/31/23, ADL documented 802 incidents in New York, which is 38% more than the 580 incidents documented in all of 2022 in the state. However, it is important to note that the spike cannot be attributed to any one ideology. Only one-third of reported incidents in New York (393) included explicit references to Israel or Zionism. 

We also recorded a dramatic spike in antisemitic bomb threats in 2023 including the largest antisemitic bomb threat spree ever recorded by ADL. Nationwide, in 2022, there were 91 bomb threats. That number experienced an explosive rise in 2023 to an incredible 1009. In New York alone, ADL documented 211 bomb threats at Jewish institutions. Thirty-five bomb threats took place during the month of September alone, which disrupted Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, and another 163 took place in December, the greatest concentration of bomb threats for any month of 2023 both in New York and nationwide. 

Despite these unprecedented challenges, we must not give in to fear, and we cannot become complacent. At ADL, we are using a multi-pronged approach to fight antisemitism through advocacy, education and partnerships.  

In New York, we are thankful for Governor Hochul’s commitment to fighting antisemitism and encourage her to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat antisemitism at the state level. In addition to elected officials, we are engaging with law enforcement to keep our communities safe and with our community partners to fight all forms of hate. 

As antisemitism permeates the mainstream, we need a whole-of-society approach to push back. Here is how you can help: 

Passover reminds us of the value of liberation and the need to be vigilant against antisemitism and hate. It also marks the arrival of spring – a season of renewal and hope. This year, the story of Passover inspires us to renew our commitment to fighting antisemitism and all forms of hate, and it gives us hope for better days to come. 

Wishing all who celebrate a chag kasher v’sameach – a meaningful, enjoyable and hopeful Passover. 

About the Author
Scott Richman is the Regional Director for ADL New York/New Jersey. He oversees the regional office’s work to fight antisemitism and combat hate in all its forms, including incident response, advocacy, education, fundraising and leadership development. He is an experienced Jewish professional and advocate dedicated to developing community partnerships and initiatives that provide justice, equality and fair treatment to all. Richman also hosts a weekly podcast called, "From the Frontlines."
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