Rising anti-Semitic incidents in Michigan concerns Jewish community leaders

Leaders says love will win and conquer all
Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 23:12:01-04

(WXYZ) — Anti-Semitism is on the rise across the country, including in Michigan. That’s according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit that shows 2021 was the highest on record.

A total of 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported, ranging from assaults to vandalism and harassment, indicating an increase of 34% when compared to 2020.

While here in Michigan, cases more than doubled last year, clocking in the state as the fifth highest.

7 Action News spoke to a Jewish community leader about the issue, who after working in several states, moved to Michigan around three-and-half years ago with his wife and four kids.

"I’ve just found Detroit a really amazing place and with communities that don’t always come together but like to come together," said Rabbi Asher Lopatin with the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee.

Interacting with the broader community is not only Lopatin’s job but also his passion.

"I love visiting churches and mosques and going to iftars,"Lopatin said.

But over the years, the peace-loving rabbi has also tasted hatred, from anti-Semitic slurs to having his kippah ripped off.

"I’m sad because I think when people hate each other, it’s a lost opportunity of potentially good people coming together," Lopatin said.

"But then, you hear about the annual audit report from ADL, where you see anti-Semitism more than doubled, how does that make you feel? 7 Action News reporter Faraz Javed asked Lopatin.

"It’s a bit of a downer, it’s a little scary. But when I think there is hatred out there, I think of the Muslim community supporting and having my back and the African American Community and the Hindu Community and the Chaldean community. I think of the allies that I have," Lopatin responded.

In Michigan, the ADL counted 112 anti-Semitic incidents, that's up nearly 120% from 51 incidents reported in 2020.

ADL’s Carolyn Normandin says May saw a spike due to the Hamas Israel war. While other incidents were led due to neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups.

"I’ve very concerned that in this country and the state of Michigan, hate is becoming commonized and it's just becoming the norm. We cannot let hate become the norm because then we lose the battle," said Carolyn Normandin, the regional director of the Michigan ADL.

Normandin says the biggest fuel for hate is the misuse of social media followed by the effects of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, there are under 90,000 Jews living and working across Michigan and Normandin fears anti-Semitism is still underreported.

As for how we defeat hate?

"We have to let the people that hate know that their hatred won't win. That our love and desire for relationships are more powerful than hatred," Lopatin said.

Now Normandin and Asher say reporting anti-Semitism is important as the data help guide policies to fight hate. Local police should be contacted immediately if one experiences anti-Semitic assault or vandalism, while for harassment, the ADL can be contacted by visiting