Local Jewish community launches campaign against antisemitism

Jewish Federation Executive Director responds to local, national rise in threats

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — In light of recent local and national accounts of antisemitism, the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga has had enough.

The federation is joining JewBelong and Shine a Light in a nationwide awareness campaign against antisemitism.

Federation Exec. Director Michael Dzik says the local Jewish community is understandably scared.

UTC was marred in November by antisemitic flyers that had been posted on campus.

Controversial tweets from Ye have also recently garnered national attention.

Dzik says Chattanooga’s Jewish community will not idly stand by in the wake of hate.

“A flier can turn into ‘who’s going to take that next step?'” Dzik said. “Who’s going to then decide to get a gun? Who’s going to then maybe see somebody recognizable walking down the street who’s Jewish and they want to go beat them up?”

In response, the federation is joining a nationwide awareness campaign against antisemitism.

Nine hot pink billboards throughout the community, as well as t-shirts and candles, have been created to spread the message.

“People have etched swastikas on people’s door fronts,” Dzik said. “Just a couple of years ago, we might remember that on the Walnut Street Bridge, there were swastikas painted up and down — which, again, is kind of scary and dangerous. You don’t know who’s going to take action when they see that.”

The federation’s cultural emissary, Adva Kasay, just moved to Chattanooga from Israel only three months ago.

She says within the short time she’s lived in America, she’s been stunned by what she’s seen.

“I’m from Israel — everyone is Jewish there,” Kasay said. “So we it’s not really in the conversation. But here it’s really an issue — I think that’s just a sad fact.”

Kasay called stereotypes against the Jewish community “wrong” and “toxic” and hopes the campaign creates a positive impact.

“We have those candles that are part of the Shine a Light campaign and we had a lot of people from the community that came here and helped us to put the stickers on the candles,” Kasay said. “I think that shows how much it’s important for the community and it’s important for everyone else to just know about this.”

On the national front, Dzik called Ye’s antisemitic comments “ignorant” and “hateful.”

With the campaign now launched, Dzik is asking for support from other local faith-based organizations.

More information on the campaign and how to get involved is available on the federation’s website.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News