By Brenda Ordoñez
Local and national Jewish communities and businesses are remaining vigilant this weekend after a neo-Nazi group based in Iowa declared Feb. 25 as the National Day of Hate.
FOLLOWING A STRING OF ANTISEMITIC HATE CRIMES EARLIER THIS YEAR, LOCAL JEWISH COMMUNITIES ARE BACK ON HIGH ALERT AFTER A NEO-NAZI GROUP DECLARED FEB. 25 AS THE DAY OF HATE.
Chayim Knobloch, Kol Tuv Kosher Foods owner: We got our windows smashed. But that wasn’t the first time either. But I mean, yeah, unfortunately I don’t become shocked when something like this is threatened to happen.
KNOBLOCH’S STORE WAS ONE OF MANY BUSINESSES THAT WERE VANDALIZED IN WEST RIDGE LAST YEAR MAKING HIM NO STRANGER TO THE FEELING OF BEING TARGETED.
Knobloch: It’s pretty scary when something like a day of hate, antisemitism has become normalized in society, so you know there’s Presidents Day and there’s day of hate. It’s all the same.
ACCORDING TO COLLIVE, AN INDEPENDENT ORTHODOX JEWISH NEWS OUTLET, THE NATIONAL DAY OF HATE WAS FIRST PROPOSED IN JANUARY BY A NEO-NAZI GROUP FROM IOWA. THE GROUP IS ENCOURAGING LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO DEFACE JEWISH-OWNED PROPERTIES.
Knobloch: My employee who is not Jewish heard about it and said, “Oh, are we going to board up the windows?” Boarding windows is extremely expensive and very troublesome so I’m not, and I hope I don’t regret that decision.
THE HATE-DRIVEN EVENT HAS GARNERED THE ATTENTION OF OTHER WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, PROMPTING POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN CHICAGO, NEW YORK AND FLORIDA TO CAUTION JEWISH RESIDENTS AND INCREASE SAFETY MEASURES.
HELPING BRING AWARENESS TO THIS ISSUE IS ALDERMAN OF THE 50TH WARD DEBRA SILVERSTEIN. IN A STATEMENT, SILVERSTEIN SAID:
I HAVE BEEN IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH THE LOCAL COMMANDERS, AND THE POLICE WILL BE PAYING SPECIAL ATTENTION TO ALL SYNAGOGUES AND JEWISH INSTITUTIONS. FAMILIES ACROSS OUR COMMUNITY SHOULD FEEL REASSURED THAT THEY ARE PROTECTED FROM THOSE THAT WISH US HARM.
ACCORDING TO DATA FROM THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT, SINCE 2012, CHICAGO HAS FACED A TOTAL OF 144 ANTI-JEWISH HATE CRIMES. OF THOSE CRIMES, 38 HAPPENED IN 2022. THIS IS MORE THAN DOUBLE OF WHAT WAS REPORTED IN 2021 CREATING A WAVE OF INSECURITY AMONG JEWISH COMMUTIES ACROSS THE CITY.
IN WEST RIDGE, I’M BRENDA ORDONEZ, MEDILL REPORTS.
Brenda Ordoñez is a Video and Broadcast graduate student at Medill. You can connect her on LinkedIn.