Anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in central Indiana, groups say

INDIANAPOLIS -- Over the last 18 months, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in central Indiana, including harassment and vandalism.

Those incidents include include swastikas spray-painted on churches, synagogues, homes, and street signs. 

Rabbi Brett Krichiver, of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, said he doesn't need to watch the news to know the incidents are on the rise. 

"I find that more and more, our congregational families are coming to us with complaints," Krichiver said. "I think about a number of Jewish organizations I've been affiliated with, where we've also had graffiti spray painted on our building. ... We've had bomb threats called in to our building in the Jewish community."

A report from the Anti-Defamation League shows the number of anti-Semitic incidents across the nation was 60 percent high in 2017 than in 2016. And in the midwest, there has been a 113 percent increase.

Lindsey Mintz, who runs the Jewish Community Relations Council on Indy's north side, said she wasn't surprised by the list of incidents. 

Her list includes a swastika at a dorm in Richmond in November 2016, a slur shouted to a man outside an Indianapolis deli the next day, a swastika found in an elevator at a hospital, and another on piano keys at Zionsville High School.

"But the ones that really upset me are the calls I get from a parent of a 7th-grader or a 9th-grader, whose Instagram feed has just been riddled with anti-Semitic messages," Mintz said.

Mintz is trying to help Jewish families respond to the incidents in a productive way. 

"When a kid says 'I was just kidding. Can't you take a joke?' Umm, we can't," she said. "It's really important that acknowledging and calling it by name and saying something at the first moment that we see it. It has to be a priority."

The Jewish Community Relations Council just completed a demographic survey finding that there are about 20,000 Jews living in central Indiana. 

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