When Being Jewish Feels Unsafe

Two-thirds of American Jews say they feel less safe than they did a decade ago — and the threat of physical violence has never felt more real. Despite the shocking events of the past few years, Jews in America are still safer than in many other places in the world. With antisemitism still a palpable threat across the globe, calling it out must be a fundamental part of living a Jewish life. Utilize the accompanying educational resources to engage your students.

These videos were created in partnership with the Z3 Project, an initiative of the Oshman Family JCC.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. What was the deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history?
    • Poway synagogue shooting
    • Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh
    • New Jersey store shooting
    • Monsey Chanukah massacre
  2. True or false, About 2/3s of American Jews feel less safe than they did a decade ago:
    • True
    • False
  3. According to the Anti-Defamation League, how many Americans hold antisemitic beliefs?
    • around 50%
    • around 10%
    • almost all
    • around 25%
  4. What percentage of European Jews believe antisemitism has gotten worse in the last decade?
    • 89%
    • 52%
    • 10%
    • 20%
  5. Many prominent BDS leaders don’t just protest the Israeli government but:
    • also support Zionism
    • think that Israel shouldn’t exist
    • believe in a two-state solution
    • all of the above
  1. Each video in this series makes the claim that it is the most important Jewish priority. Based on the video and your own thoughts, make a compelling case for why safety & security should be the most important priority within the Jewish world.
  2. Watch this interview of Bari Weiss speaking about antisemitism and then answer the following question: What do you think is the best way to fight back? Is it learning Jewish history and understanding antisemitism better? Is it focusing on Jewish pride and identity instead of the negatives of antisemitism? Is it something different entirely? Explain.
  3. Can you identify antisemitism? Use Natan Sharansky’s “3D test” to help your students recognize modern antisemitism. Note that Sharansky identifies anti-Zionism as antisemitism.
  4. Antisemitism stems both from the right and the left of the political spectrum. Read this article about antisemitism on the left and this article about antisemitism on the right and explain why each of them are uniquely dangerous.
  5. Do you think small Jewish communities who live in hostile countries to Jews should stay where they are and fight antisemitism or pack up and leave for countries that are friendlier towards Jews?
  6. Israel is often depicted within the Jewish world as a country with constant existential threats and little international support. At the same time, Israel is ranked as the 8th most powerful country in the world with the most powerful military in the region. How do you reconcile these two perspectives on the Jewish State? Do you see Israel as a vulnerable victim or as a regional superpower?
  1. Watch this video about the origins of antisemitic conspiracies and utilize the accompanying educational resources.
  2. Watch Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s video about antisemitism and answer the following questions:
    • How do you define antisemitism?
    • Why do you think antisemitism has returned?
    • Why should non-Jews care about antisemitism?
  3. Ask your students to interview an older relative (parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle etc) about any antisemitism they have experienced in their lifetime. Find out if they feel more or less safe today compared to when they were growing up. Ask your students to report their findings with the rest of the group.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on safety & security!
  1. Have you ever experienced antisemitism in your own life? Please share your experience and how it impacted you.
  2. Would you feel comfortable wearing a visibly Jewish item in public (a kippa, a star of David necklace etc)? Why or why not? If you already do wear a visible Jewish item in public, how does it make you feel to wear it? Are you especially conscious of it?
  3. Where in the world do you feel safest as a Jew? Is it a certain country? City? Community institution? Explain.
  4. Take a few minutes and read through the Anti-Defamation League’s Tracker of Antisemitic Incidents. After reading through the tracker, how do you feel? Are you surprised or did it confirm what you already know?
  5. Do you think antisemitism is a solvable program or should it just be managed? What would be the consequences of both of these outcomes?

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