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JAN 3, 2020

SoCal Jewish Community on Edge Following Anti-Semitic Attacks

By Itay Hod, Spectrum News

LOS ANGELES — For the last two years, Kelly Goldberg has been volunteering at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, educating visitors about the dangers of anti-Semitism.

But even though she’s given dozens of speaking tours, there is one particular exhibit that’s especially difficult. 

“All four of my grandparents are Holocaust survivors and I wouldn’t be here today,” Goldberg told Spectrum News 1. “Each time I come here I get chills.”

The exhibit is part of the museum’s Children’s Memorial, which features 1.2 million holes drilled into stone walls. Each one represents a Jewish child murdered by the Nazis. Visitors are given a piece of paper with a picture and some basic information on one of the victims and are encouraged to write a prayer and place the note in one of the holes. 

The recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks  — including more than a dozen in New York City and Los Angeles alone – has left many in the SoCal Jewish community on edge.

“I feel unsafe. Even though I tell myself we’re in good hands, this is the U.S., I moved here from Belgium to feel safe and now I’m here and I hear about all these attacks and of course the first thing that comes to mind is, should I move to Israel?” Goldberg said.

Over the weekend, The Bayou, a popular bar in West Hollywood, was spray-painted with graffiti that read: “Hitler was right.” Another store nearby was also vandalized. Last month, a synagogue in Beverly Hills was ransacked. 

Goldberg says the best way to fight anti-Semitism is with education. 

“When I first start the tour I always start with the question: Does anyone know anything about the Holocaust?” she said. 

According to a 2018 study, two thirds of millennials didn’t know what Auschwitz was, while 22 percent said they had never heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it.

Oscar Rodriguez, a construction worker from Modesto, said he was so worried about the rise of anti-Semitism, he came here on his vacation just to show his support. 

“I’m not Jewish, I’m Hispanic. And yet, I feel this horrible pain and by being here I feel like I’m giving a voice to all these people here,” he said. “I’m not Jewish, I’m Hispanic. And yet, I feel this horrible pain and by being here I feel like I’m giving a voice to all these people here,” he said. 

Rodriguez is not alone. According to Goldberg, the surge in anti-Semitism has shaken many of her visitors, who are worried about their own future. 

“A lot of people are thinking, 'What are they going to do now? What is their next move?'” she said.

Read the full story here.