Every year of my life, my family has hosted a Seder on Passover. From my earliest memories, my mother did all the cooking — matzoh ball soup, brisket, chicken, Hungarian meatballs, matzoh kugel — and my father conducted the Seder. 

In 2013, my father died, and in 2014, I conducted the Seder for the first time for my family. Over the past several years, my sister has taken over the preparation of the meal and this year will be the 10th time I’ve conducted the Seder. 

It’s the round numbers that we typically gravitate to as humans when we think of anniversaries, and in normal years, that would be the thing that engenders my sense of reverie — the bittersweet emotions of having been handed the reins of this ancient tradition, passed down from father to son through the history of my family. The joy and pride of sharing this occasion with my sister, and the many friends and extended family who join us at the Seder table. 

But this is not a normal year. 

Just over six months ago, Islamist terrorists staged an enormous, unprecedented attack against a mostly civilian populace in Israel, murdering about 1,200 people and kidnapping more than 230. Since then, it’s estimated that 130 people still remain captive by Hamas terrorists, and a terrible war has ravaged Israel and Gaza. It was the single worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust, and I don’t know a single Jew who wasn’t affected by it via some connection to family, friends, and colleagues who were either victimized in the attack or the subsequent incessant shelling by Hamas and Islamist terror groups into Israel from Gaza in the south and Lebanon in the north. 

As a Jew, I’ve come to understand these attacks as an existential threat that has been a part of Jewish life in Israel since long before I was born. 

As an American Jew, what I’ve seen happen since Oct. 7 is something that I’ve never witnessed in my life here on the shores of the United States. My community is under siege for which the most analogous historical precedent is the cultural turmoil of Weimar Republic Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The wave of Jew-hatred washing across our shores is turning into a pogrom. 

Over the last four years, I’ve been writing about antisemitism for the Colorado Times Recorder, covering incidents that have occurred here in Colorado, across the nation, and around the world. Prior to that, I frequently wrote about it for other publications as well. Year over year, I’ve reported on increasing incidents — bomb threats, vandalism, assaults, and murders — steadily increasing in severity and volume. What’s happened since Oct. 7 has become a tsunami — one that threatens to engulf this entire nation, and shows no signs of abating. 

In 2022, the Anti-Defamation League tracked 3,698 such incidents — an average of a little more than 10 per day in the United States. That was an increase of 36% over 2021, which was already a record-breaking year.

The explosion in 2023, however, is absolutely unhinged. The ADL tabulated 8,873 antisemitic incidents in the U.S. — an increase of more than 140%

This includes every major category the ADL tracks with increases compared to 2022 as follows:

  • Harassment up by 184%
  • Vandalism up by 69%
  • Assaults up by 45%

And while you might think this is due solely to the events that transpired on Oct. 7 and Israel’s subsequent response in Gaza, that’s not the case, as the ADL lays out: “However, even prior to October 7, there were monthly increases in February (402), March (471), April (432), May (437) and September (513). Each of these months broke the prior record for most incidents recorded in a single month, set in November 2022 (394).”

In other words, even without the war in Gaza, we were already on pace for another record-breaking year.

It’s also important to note that, despite the claims of many so-called “pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel” groups and protesters in the United States, their acts have not been relegated to simply voicing opposition to the government of Israel. Some are targeting Jews in our homes, on the streets, in our schools, community centers, and synagogues. The ADL notes, “Incidents at K-12 schools increased by 135% to 1,162 incidents. Incidents at Jewish institutions jumped by 237% to 1,987, driven mostly by massive waves of hoax threats directed at synagogues and other institutions in the summer, fall, and winter.”

Another extremely alarming statistic is this: from Oct. 7 – Oct. 27, the ADL tabulated 1,431 incidents — an increase of 539% compared to the same period in 2022. The reason this is so alarming? These all occurred after the Hamas terror attack but prior to any action taken by Israel in response. Not a single shot had been fired back at Hamas yet. 

It’s rapidly becoming evident that Jews are not safe in the United States any longer. 

That’s true for nearly every state in the union, including my home state of Colorado. In the Centennial State, acts of vandalism against Jewish institutions were up 125%, and acts of antisemitic harassment were up 200%, year-over-year from 2022–2023. Three assaults were reported in 2023, up from just one reported in 2022.

College campuses are boiling over, as many have witnessed at Columbia University in New York City just this past week. Today, April 22, the university’s president Nemat Shafik directed that all classes be taught virtually because of concerns for the safety of Jewish students, saying, “Over the past days, there have been too many examples of intimidating and harassing behavior on our campus.”

Make no mistake, peace isn’t on the table as far as these protests are concerned. Take for example this image — shared by multiple sources on Instagram and reported by the New York Times, NBC News, and other outlets — of a white woman wearing a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh standing in front of a group of Jewish students holding up Israeli flags on campus at Columbia University. When this picture was taken, the students were singing songs such as the Hatikva (Israeli national anthem) and Matisyahu’s “One Day,” an anthem for peace. Her sign has an arrow pointed at the students with text that reads “Al-Qasam’s next targets.” She is literally calling for these Jews to be murdered by Hamas’ terrorist militant group. 

Over the weekend, this video was shared on Instagram and Threads, showing a group of protesters in the U.S. chanting, “We say justice you say how/Burn Tel Aviv to the ground,” and “Hamas, we love you/We support your rockets too.”

Meanwhile, here in Colorado over the last few weeks, Jewish hatred boiled over onto elementary and high school campuses as well. One such example occurred at Cherry Creek High School where one student shared pictures of another Jewish student, calling him a “terrorist” and telling him to “kill himself.” 

This came on the heels of an incident where a social studies teacher in the school had told her class that “Hitler’s mother was Jewish” — a misinformation propaganda trope that the Holocaust was a fabricated narrative and that it was merely “Jew-on-Jew” violence. 

“We take all reports of antisemitic acts and behaviors seriously,” said Abbe G. Smith, chief communications officer for Cherry Creek School District. “All students found to be engaging in hate-motivated acts face discipline. We cannot discuss details of specific discipline faced by students due to student privacy protections.”

As to the misinformation about Hitler, Smith said, “We are aware of a report of misinformation being shared in a social studies class. Administrators swiftly addressed the matter with the educator, and the district provided professional development to all middle and high school social studies department chairpersons focused on the selection of resources and the presentation of factual, accurate historical information. There was also additional professional learning specifically with the Cherry Creek High School social studies department in guiding resource selection to best support student learning about the Holocaust.”

These incidents are emblematic of the increasing Jew-hatred infesting the United States at a breakneck pace, showing no signs of abatement. 

Tonight, Jews across the world will gather in their homes with their families and friends to retell the story of Passover and celebrate the liberation of Jews from bondage in Egypt and the settling of our ancestral home in Israel around 1200 B.C.E. It is a story of perseverance, of hope in the face of hate, of love and pride of our identity, and a celebration of our will to overcome the forces of those would destroy us. It is a story we’ve told and retold for hundreds of years. 

For me, it means more tonight than it ever has before.