'Fight hate with love.' Local rabbi responds to rise of antisemitism in Michigan

Anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60% in 2017
Posted at 4:04 PM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 18:19:52-04

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — A threatening phone call was made Wednesday to the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, marking the second day in a row the center has received a threat.

Police believe the same caller is responsible for both threats, and the caller initially made comments about pipe bombs on Tuesday.

The threats have been found to be not credible, and Wednesday the building was not put on lockdown after already being searched and evacuated on Tuesday. Police are providing extra security in the midst of growing anti semitism nationwide.

"It definitely moved it from something that’s going on in our country to something that's going on in our backyard,” said Rabbi Yarden Blumstein. “It's first of all, a reality, it’s something that we’re aware of and its unnerving as a country as a nation and obviously as a Jew.”

As a rabbi, father and member of the local Jewish community, the threat hit close to home.

The local office of the Anti Defamation League has been following the case closely.

“This latest incident here in Michigan is one of a long line of incidents, threats, that have been made against Jewish community centers and historically black colleges and universities all over the country for the last twelve months,” said Carolyn Normandin, Regional Director of the Anti Defamation League Michigan. “Unfortunately the incidents of antisemitism and all forms of hatred have been at all time highs."

According to the ADL, incidents of anti semitism in Michigan more than doubled from 2020 to 2021. Normandin says this year, incidents of white supremacy are already higher than last year.

“This has been going on and on and I know members of local law enforcement, state police and federal organizations are very, very concerned,” Normandin said.

Concerns have been mounting nationally after anti semitic messages were shared by rapper Kanye West. It caused him to lose partnerships with companies like Adidas, but it also sparked more incidents of anti semitism nationwide.

“It's interesting to think that one person made a negative comment that impacted so many people and impacted our nation in such a negative way," Rabbi Blumstein said. "That also is a lesson that we can make a positive comment and create positivity to the same degree.”

That’s the message Rabbi Blumstein wants the community to hear and to take away from the threats. He says the only way to drown out hate, is to be louder with love.

“We’re taught we’re supposed to fight hate with love and it gives the opportunity to do that," Rabbi Blumstein said. "How am I not going to fall into a pattern of hatred, but how am I going to stand up and do things differently?”

Law enforcement is currently working to trace the threatening phone calls and find the person responsible.