Anti-Semitic robo-calls, “Heil Hitler” graffiti, and thousands of pictures depicting Jews in gas chambers–these have been the markers of Donald’s Trump’s campaign for many Jews in New York City. Although these usually come from Trump supporters and not Trump himself, it has been enough to scare many, including two Reform rabbis.
Rabbi Matt Carl from East Midwood Jewish Center in Brooklyn preaches messages of equality and v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, and he finds Trump’s rhetoric to be a stark contradiction of these fundamental Jewish beliefs.
“On a personal level I have been terrified and appalled by what I’ve seen this year, especially from Trump and his supporters,” Carl said. “He speaks a lot of negative associations about America. The thought that people support his rhetoric terrifies me.”
Even more problematic for him and his colleagues is the increased harassment toward the Jewish population after Trump announced his presidency.
“I’ve been the recipient of really scary anti-Semitic stuff since he announced presidency, since we announced we were not on his side,” he stated. Rabbi Carl experienced multiple incidents of online harassment, but his other colleagues have been subject to more severe incidents of anti-Semitism, including having pictures of them being shoved into gas chambers— not once, not twice, but thousands of times, according to the Rabbi.
Rabbi Carl is not alone in this.
Rabbi Rebecca Shinder, from Temple Beth Shalom in upstate New York, has also received anti-Semitic attacks since the presidential election, including three different robo-calls to her home. The first call said “Jews, Hillary, and Israel will bring WWIII.” The second call told the rabbi she must “accept Donald Trump as the personal savior or else dark forces including Jews will overtake our people” while a Hebrew song played in the background.
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Similarly, a Jewish cemetery near Rabbi Shinder’s synagogue was graffitied with swastika symbols and “Heil Hitler” right before Yom Kippur. This incident was the first of it’s kind since the temple was built in Florida, New York 70 years ago.
“I don’t think Trump is a white supremacist or anti-Semite, but he’s stoking the fires of hatred in America,” Rabbi Shinder said. “I fear for our future.”
Rabbi Shinder has no problem embracing Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“People may not like her for any reason, but I don’t think that is equal to putting American values at risk,” Rabbi Shinder said. “I think the alternative is unthinkable. Hillary is for ideas and our future. She is a fabulous role model for my daughter. I cannot say that about Donald Trump.”
The only bright spot Rabbi Carl has been able to find in Trump’s candidacy is that he’s exposed much racism and anti-Semitism that had previously been hidden from view.
“[Anti-Semitic activities] scared me at first, but became commonplace enough that I got used to it,” Rabbi Carl said. “I try to be an optimist. We should just try to do what we can to make it better.”
“As Jews, we are in a vulnerable position with regards to Trump’s candidacy, but we are far from the most vulnerable,” he continued. “I think its obvious that other groups of people are more targeted than us. It’s important for us to stand up for their safety.”