Local Jewish leader says rise in antisemitism contextualizes 2021 Holocaust Remembrance Day

KNWA

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Wednesday marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, and a local Jewish community leader said it’s important Arkansans stand together against antisemitism.

Toby Klein is the co-president for Temple Shalom in Fayetteville. She said the country’s recently seen public antisemitism. Nationally, this manifested in the QAnon conspiracy theory, a widespread delusion that contains anti-Jewish beliefs. During the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, one extremist was photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt. On a local level, images of a Northwest Arkansas a man wearing a Nazi swastika on his mask went viral.

The Anti-Defamation League charted a rise in violence against the Jewish community across the country over the last few years. Because of this, Klein said police officers attend Temple Shalom services to protect Jews during worship services. Some community members have expressed concern when it comes to attending in-person services after the pandemic ends, Klein said.

“In light of the Holocaust and everything that’s happened, there’s an apprehension for Jews to want to say we’re vulnerable,” Klein said.

Klein said it’s important that people study the Holocaust and what led to it so those same factors aren’t replicated. She noted the Nazi’s most vile act was against humanity, those deemed inferior to white nationalism’s idea of supremacy, and this fear of “the other” is prevalent once again.

“Our allies are maybe a little more quiet than some of our aggressors in this instance,” Klein said. “That gives me pause.”

Klein said local Jews want their fellow community members to stand in solidarity with them and give them a voice.

“The greatest gift you can give is to be more tolerant and inclusive of all folks, not just our Jewish community,” Klein said.

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