Antisemitic graffiti found at St. Louis park. How to combat antisemitism and assist families in Israel

“Whenever we see a rise in tension and conflict in the Middle East, specifically Israel, we also see a rise in antisemitic attacks,” Rori Picker Neiss said.

ST. LOUIS — A deadly attack miles away in Israel hits home for some. Israel is at war with Hamas and the war’s death toll rose to nearly 1,600 on both sides.

On Monday, United States President Joe Biden said 11 U.S. citizens have died and an unknown number remain missing.

“Most people in our Jewish community know someone there right now, family or friends. We have a lot of people in our St. Louis Jewish community from Israel,” Rori Picker Neiss, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis, said. 

Brian Herstig, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, echoed the same message and said there are dozens of families from St. Louis who moved to Israel over the years. 

What they said also concerns them is the increase in possible pushback.

“Whenever we see a rise in tension and conflict in the Middle East, specifically Israel, we also see a rise in antisemitic attacks,” Neiss said. 

Within the last 48 hours, St. Louis police said it took a report of antisemitic graffiti at Christy Park in south St. Louis. 

A swastika was sprayed on the side of this truck with black spray paint.

After the vandalism, it looks like someone else came by and put an “X” through it, adding two smiley faces.

Also on site, there were two other pink spray paint marks covering the other antisemitic messages.

This comes as the Anti-Defamation League finds that U.S. antisemitic incidents hit the highest level of antisemitic activity since ADL started keeping records in 1979.

“We are working to make sure our St. Louis community is safe,” Neiss added. 

That’s the goal of organizations such as the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis.

Both are ready to respond.

On Sunday night, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis made an Israel Emergency Campaign Fund

“All of the dollars raised by this will go to directly to the people on the ground in Israel to deal with rebuilding, short-term medical trauma needs and long-term trauma needs,” Herstig said. 

In a time of turmoil, local organizations want to provide some peace.

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis, along with other organizations, is hosting a community gathering on Wednesday, as a time to come together and support one another.

Neiss also encourages people to keep informed through education and visits sites like the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum to learn more.

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