Fighting antisemitism amid rising hate crimes in Georgia

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 6:23 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The FBI recently released a report showing the number of hate crimes dropped slightly around the country in 2021.

But in Georgia, reports went up from 195 to 238. Most cases reported involved race, ethnicity, or ancestry.

We talked to a local rabbi who described his first-hand experience of antisemitism in Atlanta. Here’s how the community is trying to fight back against hate in Augusta.

The Menorah at the Evans Towne Center Park publicly stands in support of the Jewish community here in the CSRA.

It defies the expectations set against this part of the country, which has seen a rise in hate crimes in South Carolina and Georgia in recent years.

“It’s terrifying. I want to say it’s very danger,” said Rabbi Shai, Congregation Children of Israel.

Shai just celebrated the beginning of another Hanukkah season. With the congregation being more than 175 years old, they’ve had their fair share of celebration and antisemitism in their long history here. Some instances were just within the past month.

“I went to Atlanta. I went into a store, and I walking with my Yamaka, without my hat, and somebody said to me: ‘dirty Jew’,” he said.

It’s a rise in hatred that’s been recognized by the Anti-Defamation League earlier in 2022 in S.C. and Ga. and more recently again by the FBI in the Peach State.

But for congregations here in the CSRA...

Chabad Augusta Rabbi Fischer, Chabad Augusta said: “I can personally say that I have not recently encountered any antisemitism from people. I read about it in the news like everybody else. I have not seen anything locally directed at me.”

It’s why big celebrations can go on in public.

Shai said: “We will not be afraid of this. This is the only solution. And to teach the next generation of children to stop to hate.”

Chabad of Augusta says while there won’t be quite as big of a celebration for the next six nights, you can still come to see a new light each night.