South Bay Jewish community explains how daily lives are impacted by rising antisemitic incidents

"I know so many people who have taken great efforts to maybe not speak Hebrew in public, taking down their mezuzah"

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, December 27, 2023
Antisemitic incidents concerning South Bay Jewish community
The Jewish community in Los Altos explains how their daily lives are impacted by the rising antisemitic incidents.

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- As the struggle between Israel and Hamas rages on overseas, Bay Area residents are left to pay the price of war.

Islamophobia is on the rise and members of the Jewish community are facing their own heightened risk of retaliation and hate.

From hateful graffiti in San Francisco to Oakland's largest menorah smashed, Antisemitic incidents are on the rise and members of the Jewish community don't feel safe.

But it's not just a big city problem.

"In Los Altos, I've never been more proud to be Jewish, but I've never been more vulnerable to be Jewish, though, at the same time," a Los Altos resident who wished to remain anonymous said.

MORE: FBI sees surge of 1,800-plus threats and tips related to Israel-Hamas war, top DOJ official says

She added this fear is sadly not something new for her community.

She and her family are trying to maintain pride in their heritage, but she knows many others who are fearful as Israel continues its military campaign in Gaza in retribution for the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants.

"I know so many people who have taken great efforts to maybe not speak Hebrew in public, taking down their mezuzah, which is a clear indication that it is a Jewish household, wearing Jewish jewelry to identify themselves," She said.

Similar messages have flooded Los Altos Councilmember Pete Dailey's office, including concern for the safety of children after at least two antisemitic incidents took place at local middle schools.

Swastikas were drawn on lockers at one school and students yelled "Jews must die" in another, according to Dailey who we spoke with on the phone Tuesday.

VIDEO: Los Altos middle school investigates swastikas found drawn on lockers, 1 belonging to Jewish student

The Los Altos School District is investigating after several swastikas were found drawn on lockers at Blach Intermediate School.

"You can just sense it when you're talking to them how scared they are and how much they question society, leadership and values around them and wonder whether they are in the right place and a safe place to raise their families," Dailey said.

The struggles of the Jewish Community here in Los Altos representing a microcosm of a bigger issue.

Antisemitism is felt throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

"We're seeing a big spike in reports," Jewish Community Relations Council of the Bay Area CEO Tyler Gregory said.

Gregory says his organization is hearing about anitisemitism by community members daily.

MORE: As antisemitic incidents surge, Holocaust survivor speaks out: 'Why else did I survive?'

A recent report by the JCRC shows about 61% of Bay Area Jewish residents feel less safe living daily lives since Oct. 7 and 36% say they have experienced antisemitism personally.

Only around 30% of those polled said they experienced this kind of hate in the past three years.

Gregory says more needs to be done to educate Americans and stop hate before it grows.

"We want to make sure that in the same way acts of racism, sexism and homophobia are addressed by institutions, so too should anti-Jewish hate be addressed in the same way from different types of leaders," Gregory said.

In the hopes that everyone can live peacefully without fear in their community.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live