A Jewish advocacy organization is putting up billboards in Florida calling out antisemitism in the wake of recent antisemitic incidents in the state and across the U.S.
JewBelong – an online resource that helps Jews “find the joy, meaning, relevance and connection that Judaism has to offer” – placed the billboards in Miami-Dade and Broward counties on Friday as they announced their #EndJewHate campaign.
With the trauma from the Colleyville synagogue hostage attack still fresh in the minds of American Jews, the campaign seeks to “stem bad things from happening” to the Jewish community through a multi-faceted approach, the co-founder of JewBelong Archive Gottesman told CNN.
"We need to talk about it and we need to be uncomfortable for a minute," Gottesman said.
She added that raising awareness of antisemitism gives rise to “important conversations.”
Explaining that ending antisemitic acts against the Jewish community is a longterm undertaking, Gottesman said: "There's a lot of ways to stem bad things from happening – there's education, podcasts, articles and books – and they're all important. To fight hate, we need a lot of tools in our tool belt and our awareness campaign is one really important tool."
Gottesman’s organization’s aim is to expand its campaign across the U.S.
One of their billboards, which is bright pink and white, says: “We're just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling out Jew hate isn't an overreaction." A second one asks "Does your church need armed guards? Cause our synagogue does."
They hope to install three more billboards in Florida over the next few months.
Previous billboard campaigns have taken place in several other cities, including Boston.
"It's really important to not just drop the subject because I don't think it's getting any better and until it starts getting better, we have to keep fighting," Gottesman said. "Sometimes you have to be a little bit compelling and a little different to get people's attention."
The Florida campaign launched in the aftermath of multiple antisemitic incidents taking place in the state in the first six weeks of 2022.
In early January, two antisemitic incidents that took place in South Tampa prompted the Tampa JCCs and Federation to issue an alert to members of the local Jewish community to report any instances of antisemitic activity they encounter.
Weeks later, antisemitic flyers were distributed to hundreds of homes in Miami Beach and Surfside. The incident triggered an investigation by local and federal law enforcement.
At the end of January, neo-Nazis marched in Orlando, with at least three members of the group arrested for taking part in the rally.
On February 7, two Florida teens were arrested for vandalizing the home and car of a Bonita Springs rabbi.