Attacks on US Synagogues Up 71% in First Two Months of 2023, New CAM Study Reveals

Members of the neo-Nazi Goyim Defense League (GDL) harass a Jewish man leaving a synagogue in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 17, 2023.

March 16, 2023

The first two months of 2023 saw an alarming uptick in attacks on Jewish institutions globally, 33 total reported by the media, according to a new study — which can be read in full here — published by the CAM Antisemitism Research Center. 

Of these attacks, 15 were directed at synagogues, 12 (or 80%) of which were located in the United States. Of these, four (or 33.3%) involved the threat of violence, six (or 50%) involved vandalism, and two (or 16.7%) involved hateful language or conduct.  

Incidents targeting U.S. synagogues in January and February of 2023 were up 71.4% over the same period last year — during which the Jan. 15 hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, occurred. 

A particularly traumatizing event was the antisemitic “national day of hate” observed by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. Demonstrators were filmed shouting “Heil Hitler” and “sir do you think you should be put in an oven” at Jewish attendees at a synagogue in Florida. 

“It is clear from this report and the scenes we are regularly witnessing on social media that synagogues have become the de facto frontlines for those who seek to target Jews,” said Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa. “Over the last few years, we have seen a surge in attacks on synagogues by neo-Nazis and radical Islamists who all appear to see Jewish places of worship as legitimate targets. It cannot be that a Jew must fear for their safety when attending synagogue.” 

“We call on governments and law enforcement agencies around the world to take a holistic approach to the increasingly spreading global pandemic of hate against Jews and Jewish institutions,” Dratwa concluded. 

The contemporary landscape of antisemitism, both in America and worldwide, is one of increasing menace. Jews going about their daily lives regularly encounter the spray-painting of Nazi symbols on synagogues, hate speech and live in fear of violent assault.   

White supremacist groups and lone-wolf assailants have shown more boldness in threatening and targeting American synagogues. While federal and state financial grants have helped bolster security measures, Jewish houses of worship remain highly vulnerable to acts of hatred perpetrated by assailants from across the ideological spectrum, including far-right, far-left, and radical Islamist extremists. 

This concerning phenomenon must be addressed by a non-partisan, “all hands on deck” approach. When it comes to fighting and ultimately defeating antisemitism in the U.S., there is no room for political tribalism. This is not a “Republican” or “Democratic” cause, but rather a vital “American” endeavor.

Read the “Threats to American Synagogues Soar in First Two Months of 2023: Highlighting the Growing Threat of Antisemitism” report here.