Jewish students and teachers face increased anti-Semitism this year

Sophia Halpern

With celebrities like Ye (Kanye) West and Kyrie Irving spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric to a combined total of 32 million followers on Instagram and 34.7 million on Twitter, the usual covert hate towards Jewish people has become more overt. Though West has since been banned on Instagram and Twitter after posting a swastika inside a Star of David, the message his young fans received from his posts has been lasting.

Since 2016, anti-Semitic incidents in Oregon have been on the rise, with one happening in 2016, 17 in 2017, 7 in 2018, 13 in 2019, 24 in 2021, and 23 in 2022. These incidents have been chronicled by the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish organization based in the United States specializing in civil rights law whose mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” 

Lisa Klein-Wolf is the Activities Director and leadership teacher at Lincoln High School. She is Jewish and feels the effects of anti-Semitism now more than ever. 

“This school year, in particular, I have witnessed, heard about, and experienced more anti-Semitism than I have ever experienced before,” she said.

Klein-Wolf said she increasingly has to think about whether or not she wants to disclose her identity as a Jewish person to her students, because of concern about what their reactions might be.

Junior Charlotte Bass is also Jewish. They feel that famous people being so publically hateful is affecting the public’s view of Jewish people.

“Public figures loudly proclaiming their anti-Semitism most certainly makes it seem more acceptable for other people to make bigoted comments or jokes,” they said.

Bass wishes that more non-Jewish people would ally themselves with Jewish people and stand by them when they hear anti-Semitism. 

“It would feel reassuring if more people publicly opposed these ideas and made it clear they stood with our community,” Bass said.

Klein-Wolf thinks that it is vital to find it in herself to forgive and educate when incidents of anti-Semitism occur at school. However, when an incident first occurs she says she feels incredibly passionate and emotional.

“Being confronted with any form of hate speech is an emotionally and physically draining experience. I try to take some space and allow myself to process whatever it is I am feeling,” said Klein-Wolf.

Sarah Kane is a Jewish Student Union president who has heard more stories about anti-Semitic incidents this year than ever before from students who are in the club.

“Anti-Semitism is very real and prevalent at our school,” she said. “I have been hearing really disturbing stories from my Jewish peers, and it is scary.”