Kentucky Jewish organizations speak out about rise in antisemitism

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 18:04:17-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — As many people focus on their goals and resolutions for the new year, the Kentucky Jewish Council is focusing on lowering the number of antisemitic incidents Kentucky saw in 2022. For the first time, the council released a report that shows that these acts are on the rise. They felt this needed to be seen.

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, who is with the KJC, says, "As you look through the report, as you look through January, February, March, April, every single month, incident after incident in Louisville, Frankfort, all across the commonwealth – I think that it shows representatives what needs to be done."

According to this report, the Kentucky Jewish Council says that antisemitic incidents went up in 2022. This eight-page document outlines more than 30 incidents that have taken place across the state.

Litvin says, "The fact is that change can happen. It happens step-by-step, but we have seen it happen in our society. And the fact is that we have many, many voices that want to fight on this issue in the Commonwealth."

Another voice — The Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass — says it's been tough to hear and see these acts of hate. They say some even came from political figures.

Justin Sadle with the Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass says, "Seeing it really out in the open and in high-profile cases was especially concerning over the last year."

In addition to community outreach and education, they believe that individuals speaking out against the hate is also a powerful way to stop the spread of hate.

Sadle says, "These types of hatred just seek to divide us and the best way to combat that is just standing together."

Rabbi Litvin says hateful acts and speech are contagious. Looking back though this list of antisemitic incidents from last year, he agrees that speaking out against it, is the thing to do — not laughing or feeding into hateful comments.

He says, "That silence is one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. But it's worth it every single time. No, I can’t laugh at that, I can't smile and let it go, I have to say no, that joke offends me. That joke bothers me. Because hateful words lead to gathering of hate, and gatherings of hate lead to acts of violence."

The Kentucky Jewish Council plans to present its report to state lawmakers next month.