OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Jewish Community Relations Bureau|American Jewish Committee Kansas City released results of the 2022 "Antisemitism in Schools" survey.
JCRBAJC says the survey looks to learn more about the experiences of Jewish middle and high school students in the area while creating programs and resources to help.
"Antisemitism is at an all time high in the United States," said Sarah Markowitz, JCRBAJC's director of education and programs. "2021 was the most antisemitic year on record."
Antisemitism can range from casual comments, Markowitz cited "Jew jokes" as an example, to seeing swastikas drawn on desks and bathrooms. Incidents don't necessarily have to be a violent attack.
Of the survey's 83 responses, 81% of Jewish students said they had experienced or witnessed at least one form of antisemitism in schools, and that number jumps even higher for situations on social media.
In addition, 35% of students said antisemitism has increased a lot or somewhat in schools in the past two years, and 75% of students say antisemitism is somewhat or a serious problem in their schools.
"With students, I constantly have to remind them that this is not normal," Markowitz said. "When students speak about antisemitism, they kind of minimize it. 'Oh it’s just jokes, it’s just a few comments, it’s just this.' I did not experience that growing up. That is not something Jewish students should be subjected."
The survey also showed that a majority of students want their peers and teachers to understand antisemitism, saying that would make them feel more confident in their schools.
"A student in class before has asked to sing Happy Birthday to Hitler because he was a great leader," said Marissa Mclain, a Jewish student at Shawnee Mission South.
Through their work at the Jewish Community Center, they help spread awareness with a hope to educate others.
"It really just makes you feel sick, almost, like, I can’t believe that would happen or someone would say that," Mclain said. "I personally am wearing a Hebrew name necklace or wear a Jewish star and stuff like that. But there’s sometimes where oh, maybe I should tuck it into my shirt, maybe I shouldn’t let other people see it."
They're scared to express their Jewish pride due to threats and attacks they've seen directed toward their Jewish friends, echoing that it's important for those outside of the Jewish community to be proactive and offer support even when it's not a hot button issue.
"It shouldn’t take a massive celebrity spreading antisemitism to millions of followers, a mass shooting or an attack to happen for people to talk about antisemitism, because this is something the Jewish community is experiencing every single day and it’s something that our Jewish students in our region are experiencing every single day," Markowitz said.
To read the full results, click here.