‘Alarming rise’ in antisemitic incidents in 2022

Follower of Jesus, we must take seriously the fear and anxiety felt by our Jewish neighbors.
Topics: Antisemitism

By the Rev. Cariño Casas
Executive Director

Same story, different year. Antisemitism continued to rise in the United States in 2022.

The Anti-Defamation League recorded 3,697 incidents last year, up 36 percent from 2021 and the highest recorded by the ADL. “The number of incidents increased in each category compared to 2021 – harassment, vandalism, and assault. Incidents of harassment increased 29 percent while incidents of vandalism increased 51 percent,” according to the report by Tel Aviv University and the ADL. 

Of the nearly 3,700 instances of antisemitism, 111 were assaults, up 26 percent from 2021. Those getting physically attacked are more often “visibly-identifiable Jews,” particularly ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) out on the street or public transportation and not necessarily near synagogues.

But why? In 2021, some blamed the COVID pandemic and the Israel-Gaza conflict of May 2021. In 2022, there were no such aggravating circumstances. The writers of the report then consider how the social and political climate in the U.S. has changed in the past 20 years in such a way as to embolden those with fringe beliefs, such as white supremacists, Christian nationalists,1 and groups such as the Hebrew Israelites who proclaim themselves as the true Jews.

woman (Dara Horn) in blue shirt next to book People Love Dead Jews
Dara Horn, author of People Love Dead Jews

Perhaps in the context of 6-7 million Jews in the United States, these numbers – fewer than 4,000 incidents – seem small. What we as Christians need to move from our heads to our hearts is that, as the report states, “Antisemitic incidents are not an abstract phenomenon. Whether physical or virtual, they affect real people in the real world.” These are flesh-and-blood humans, made in the image of God who are suffering fear, anxiety, and worse. That is the truth Dara Horn took 272 pages to say in People Love Dead Jews.

Former senator Joe Lieberman, in an interview at the end of the report, speaks about the effect the rising antisemitism is having on college campuses:

“Some Jewish kids, God bless them, students are standing up and fighting it, but others are just putting their heads down and staying quiet. You know the old shush, ‘don’t bother the goyim (Gentiles) because if we fight back, they’ll really kill us.’ Or, in the kids’ cases, they just want to have fun going to college. ‘Don’t bother me for being a Jew.’ And we’re at a point in American society that I just did not foresee 20 years ago, even ten years ago, and I don’t like it, and I’m working with people here to try to do something about it.”

In 2021, the American Jewish Committee polled both American Jews and non-Jews on the state of antisemitism in the United States. Most agreed that the United States has an antisemitism problem, though the two groups differ on how bad of a problem it is. An AJC analysis said, “While 90 percent of American Jews believe antisemitism is either a very serious problem or somewhat of a problem, that number drops to 60 percent among the general public.” It makes sense that Jewish Americans would be more sensitive to the threat. One-quarter of the general public believes antisemitism is not much of a problem or a problem at all, while only 10 percent of Jews feel that way. “Perhaps unsurprisingly,” the AJC analysis continues, “Americans who say they know someone who is Jewish are significantly more likely to view antisemitism as a problem.”  

“Americans who say they know someone who is Jewish are significantly more likely to view antisemitism as a problem.”  

If you are feeling skeptical that antisemitism is a threat in this country, it is time to befriend more of your Jewish neighbors and listen to their thoughts, their fears, and their hearts.

Knowing about the Jewish roots of the New Testament is not enough. I know learned people who can tell you all about the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith, but they talk about the Jewish people in the past tense. They fall into that trap of loving dead Jews more than the living, breathing ones down the road. 

stick people climbing with quote "we rise by lifting others"

Let us not just care for the Jews of history – whether martyred apostles or murdered Holocaust victims. If we love Jesus of Nazareth – resurrected, alive now at the right hand of the Ancient of Days – how are we showing love to our Jewish neighbor down the street?

Friendship starts with small acts of kindness, like sending a greeting card at Passover or Rosh Hashanah. Make it a point to visit the Jewish center or synagogue near you when they hold a public event. Check on your Jewish neighbors when you hear – God forbid – of yet another act of vandalism or threat against the Jewish community, or worse.

We at CMJ USA are eager to help churches build bridges with the synagogue down the street. Let us know how we can serve you and your congregation at info@cmj-usa.org.

The Rev. Cariño Casas is the Executive Director of CMJ USA. She joined the CMJ family in 2014 as the media coordinator of Christ Church Jerusalem. She has a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Trinity School for Ministry and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She is the deacon at Grace Anglican Church in Edgeworth, Pennsylvania. 


[1] The report says: “Broadly defined, Christian nationalism is ‘a cultural framework that blurs distinctions between Christian identity and American identity, viewing the two as closely related and seeking to enhance and preserve their union.’ It is neither synonymous with the idea that America is a ‘Christian nation’ nor with ‘evangelicalism’ or ‘white evangelicalism.’” They take this definition from Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020). CMJ USA may at a future date tackle the antisemitic rhetoric arising from those espousing Christian Nationalism.

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Article published on 04/25/2023