Jewish people use mezuzahs to identify a Jewish home, but in 2018 anti-Semitism put mezuzahs under attack. Most Jewish families once took pride in having a mezuzah by their door; whether it was decorative and stood out like a magnificent symbol or was something that blended in and was less obvious, it was always there. As anti-Semitism has been on the rise, there have been multiple occasions where Jewish families were called upon to remove their family mezuzah from their front door, or it was taken down by force.
In 2018, four separate incidents were publicly reported where mezuzahs came under attack, with the first being just weeks into January. Upon returning to UCLA after winter break, Jewish Undergraduate Students Association Council President Arielle Mokhtarzadeh found the mezuzah from her office missing, and this was not the first time it was stolen. Mokhtarzadeh’s grandparents come from Iran, where they were forced to hide their identity, which ultimately fueled Mokhtarzadeh desire to express her Jewish faith. Rather than hiding her mezuzah on the inside of her office door, she held a ceremony with the UCLA Chabad rabbi to replace the mezuzah. Security cameras were installed by the office to ensure it would not happen again.
The following month, a man in Antwerp was caught on camera rampaging through a Jewish neighborhood, tearing down at least 20 mezuzahs from the doorposts of Jewish homes. He was not taking them down and pocketing them, as some might be of value, but rather the man was throwing them on the ground, drawing ‘x’s on doors with mezuzahs still on, and harassing residents of the area. This act might have been the most aggressive when it comes to an attack on mezuzahs, but it was surely not the last.
In July, a Jewish family in southern France was asked by their housing complex to remove the mezuzah from their front door, stating that no personal items are allowed outside the home. While the family had been living there for some time and it was not an issue before, it seemed a little strange that they were asked to remove their almost unnoticeable mezuzah, whereas neighbors with doormats were left alone. A similar situation happened a few months later with a housing complex in the Jewish area of Stamford Hill, London, England. The company demanded that their residents remove their mezuzahs from their doors as it was against the rules of the complex, and if the families didn’t do it, the company would remove the mezuzahs themselves. Jewish families lived in the area for years without a problem until that day, but in the end, an apology went out to each family, and no one had to remove it. The same thing happened in Chicago, Illinois in 2004.
Despite the ongoing rise of anti-Semitism around the world, keeping your mezuzah up is a way to stand up to the world and show that the Jewish People are not giving in. A mezuzah has become one of the most iconic symbols in Judaism, as they sit either on the front doorpost or in the entry of almost every room in the home. They are a piece of Judaica that symbolizes who we are on a personal level, not only by the message they bring but by physically how they look. Mezuzahs might be under attack, but as the Jewish nation, we need to stand up and fight it.