This month’s brutal stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski in front of a Jewish camp and day school in Brighton signals an escalation in antisemitism in Greater Boston. The rabbi, who was taking a break from overseeing 100 children at the day camp and standing in front of the campus, was approached by a man who had drawn suspicion the day before when he was seen in front of the camp, lingering by its menorah on the front lawn.
After the man pulled out a gun, Rabbi Noginski realized that his assailant’s goal was to enter the building and kill the campers. The rabbi ran from the camp, and his alleged attacker – an Egyptian man who was later arrested and charged with hate crime and civil rights counts – repeatedly stabbed the rabbi. Rabbi Noginski is now recovering and only his street smarts saved him – and perhaps many other Jews – from an unthinkable tragedy.
We can no longer rely on miracles to prevent antisemitism and violence against Jews. In the aftermath of the Hamas-Israel War in May, an Anti-Defamation League survey of nearly 600 Jewish Americans found that 60 percent reported witnessing behavior or comments they personally considered to be antisemitic following the violence.
Across the state, Jews have seen an uptick in antisemitism in recent years. Sadly, if you pick out a map and point your finger to a city in Greater Boston, chances are at least one antisemitic incident occurred there. There have been other violent attacks here, such as in 2018, when a Jewish woman was nearly strangled to death on a Cambridge street. Antisemitism is a chronic issue in public schools. And in recent months, public officials have spewed Jew hatred: in Lowell, a School Committee member used a slur on live TV to describe a former Jewish city employee; in Duxbury, the team used the word “Auschwitz” as the name of a play; in Marblehead, residents are still waiting to learn why a former police officer scratched a swastika into another officer’s car.
While the state or federal government does not have a designated envoy to investigate antisemitism, it would be wise for Governor Charlie Baker or President Joe Biden to appoint one. In the meantime, Jews need to be vigilant. It is time to have an open conversation with your family about antisemitism and how we can protect ourselves, physically and emotionally. Times have changed. If you are a victim of antisemitism, immediately call 911.