Synagogues fortify security measures for Passover as antisemitism rises

Antisemitic graffiti in Gaithersburg, an alleged antisemitic assault in Northwest DC, and antisemitic flyers in Fairfax County – just three of the hundreds of incidents of antisemitism that have apparently occurred in the region over the past year.

According to a new Anti-Defamation League report, there were 733 antisemitic incidents just in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia in 2023. That’s a 340 percent increase over the previous year, with many of the incidents coming after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, according to the report.

"They’re startling, they’re sobering, they’re somewhat frightening, but they’re really not surprising," said Rusty Rosenthal, the executive director of community security for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.


American University hit with federal complaint over 'persistent' antisemitism

American University in Washington, D.C., has been hit with a federal complaint alleging that Jewish and Israeli students have experienced "persistent and threatening anti-Semitic rhetoric and conduct" on campus.

A former FBI special agent, Rosenthal now helps provide resources and security consultation services to more than 250 Jewish institutions in the region.

"The vigilance and even our anxiety is a bit heightened with everything that’s gone on," he told FOX 5 Friday.

Synagogues fortify security measures for Passover as antisemitism rises

That means taking extra precautions, some of which have now been in place for years, including increased police presence at synagogues. Rosenthal added that that’s especially true this weekend, with a major Jewish holiday, Passover, being observed early next week.

"While there’s greater concern right now at this particular point in time," he added, "those practices have already been in place for the last few years."

This week, federal officials said it’s not just antisemitism on the rise, noting that incidents of Islamophobia have increased since the Oct. 7 attack as well.