TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — State lawmakers are making a multi-million dollar investment to protect Jewish communities as reports of antisemitic threats are on the rise.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Monday centered around protecting children in the classroom. The Anti-Defamation League is reporting a nearly 400% spike in antisemitic incidents since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7.
The law could enhance protection at Jewish Day schools and preschools.
“It’s good that we’re getting that support,” said Rabbi Pinny Backman, executive director of the Chabad Jewish Center at the University of South Florida. “It’s crazy that we need it. I know Jewish schools in the area have stepped up security.”
The new law will provide $25 million for safety at the schools. It sets aside another $20 million for security grants to help other non-profits that are considered a high rick for violent attacks and hate crimes.
“I know many have tried to extinguish the Jewish spirit and failed,” said Sylvie Feinsmith, executive director of Hillels of the Florida Suncoast.
Even though the law is focused on Jewish Day Schools, Jewish leaders at USF are voicing concerns about student safety on college campuses.
Those who are worried about the rise in antisemitic threats toward students are encouraged that this new law could make a difference.
“I’m grateful our elected officials are taking time and attention to address the needs,” Feinsmith said. “I think we as a society need to address the root.”
“I’m thankful they’re doing it,” Backman said. “It’s hard to know that we need this in today’s day and age. A place where kids are going to learn and pray has to be guarded the entire time. It’s saying something about the culture that we’re living in.”