TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Jewish community leaders in Tampa Bay tell 8 On Your Side they are working on ways to raise awareness and to combat the rise in anti-Semitism across the country.
“People are afraid,” Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski from Chabad Chai of South Tampa said. “They’re afraid to go out and practice their faith, they’re afraid to attend Jewish events and participate in their local synagogue.”
Security concerns for Jewish communities nationwide have been elevated after the knife attack at a Hanukkah celebration in New York that left five people wounded and the deadly shootout at a Kosher grocery store in New Jersey.
“It tears you apart,” Rabbi Dubrowski said of these attacks targeting Jews because of their religion.
At his synagogue, Rabbi Dubrowski said steps have already been taken to increase security.
“While a person of faith believes in god, they have a responsibility and onus to do everything in their powers to protect them themselves and their family,” he said.
In the pastor from Tampa’s Reliant Family Church, the rabbi has found an ally from another faith speaking out against this form of hate.
“We should certainly be able to celebrate who we are, that’s why we’re in America and Jews should have the freedom to wear a kippah,” Pastor Rob Mallan said of the traditional headcovering worn by Jews.
Mallan told 8 On Your Side he has shown support by attending recent public Jewish events.
“I am excited and optimistic about what I see taking place in our faith communities as far as growth and collaboration,” he said.
Rabbi Dubrowski stresses that anti-Semitism isn’t just a Jewish problem, saying “it never stops and ends with the Jewish people.”
He also told 8 On Your Side the answer during these unsettling times is for Jews to increase their level of observance.
“I’m going to send a message that my faith is here to stay,”