Antisemitic Incidents Up 42% in New England, Mostly in Mass.

Reports of assault, harassment and vandalism against Jewish people remain at an historic high in Massachusetts

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Antisemitic incidents increased at a higher rate in New England than the rest of the country last year, with Massachusetts ranking as the worst offender.

The Anti-Defamation League released its annual audit of antisemitic incidents Tuesday, which compiled reports of assaults, harassment and vandalism against Jewish people in 2021. The 42% spike in New England outpaced a 34% increase nationwide.

Of the 155 incidents reported across the region, 108 were in Massachusetts. Antisemitic incidents remain at an historic high in the Bay State, which nearly doubled over the year prior.

Massachusetts  saw a 48% spike in antisemitic incidents last year. Neighboring states including Rhode Island and Vermont also reported an increase, while antisemitic incidents declined in Maine and New Hampshire.

Nationally, the ADL recorded 2,717 antisemitic incidents in 2021, the highest total since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. 

The ADL tracked several violent incidents in Massachusetts throughout the year, including the stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski outside Shaloh Jewish Day School in Brighton. Noginski was stabbed eight times and his assailant, Khaled Awad, was charged with hate crimes.

A rabbi from Boston who was stabbed Thursday says he hopes to get back to work soon.

The ADL was called to respond to a number of incidents in Massachusetts schools last year, including in Duxbury, where a high school football coach was fired after his team used Holocaust-related and Jewish terms during practices and games.

The ADL provided antibias education and professional development to the school community after an independent investigation found the anti-Semitic language may have been used in practices dating back to 2010.

An internal investigation found anti-Semitic language being used in play calls at Duxbury High School may date back to 2010.

The ADL also got involved in the wake of a series of incidents in Danvers Public Schools. The Massachusetts Attorney General launched an investigation after the Danvers High School hockey team was reportedly using antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ, and racist language in a group chat and engaged in hazing practices.

The superintendent of schools in Danvers announced her retirement amid the continued investigation into the district's handling of hazing allegations.

Leaders at Danvers High School are being investigated over allegations of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic behavior.

Other cases included the harassment of a counter-protestor at an anti-Israel event in Boston and other appearances of swastikas in public spaces, schools and on college campuses. ADL also tracked an incident in Newton involving a group of teenagers who threw rocks at a young boy walking in a park who was wearing a kippah.  

A total of 54 cities and towns in Massachusetts saw at least one antisemitic incident in 2021, according to ADL data.  Vandalism increased by 66% and harassment increased by 26%.  Massachusetts also recorded two assaults; no assaults were recorded in 2020. 

The majority of 2021 antisemitic incidents reported to ADL New England were incidents of harassment (78), followed by incidents of vandalism (75). Vandalism and harassment incidents across the region increased by 42 % and 39%, respectively.   

“The alarming increase in antisemitic incidents in the region and across the country should be deeply concerning to all,” ADL's New England Regional Director Robert Trestan said. “The message that the data is sending is crystal clear: antisemitism remains a pervasive ill in our society that must be stemmed, or else we risk normalizing this hatred.” 

Massachusetts recorded the seventh highest number of incidents per state in the country (108), following New York (416), New Jersey (370), California (367), Florida (190), Michigan (112) and Texas (112).  

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