This report is part of the “Hate in America" project produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project by top college journalism students and recent graduates from across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
NEW YORK — “If you attack one of us, you attack all of us.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the New York-based Union for Reform Judaism, wasn’t just speaking for Jewish people. As religious hate crimes rise in America, faith groups across the country have come together to protect themselves and help others who have been been attacked for their religion.
In Philadelphia, after vandals toppled and desecrated at least 275 headstones at the historic Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in February 2017, hundreds of volunteers, including members of other faiths, helped with the cleanup, according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
In Victoria, Texas, after an arsonist destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center in January 2017, members of the Jewish community in the city of 60,000 offered the keys to their temple and Christian churches offered spaces so Muslims could worship until the mosque was rebuilt.
In Tennessee, after the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was spray-painted with anti-Islamic slurs and defaced with bacon in July 2017, hundreds from the community provided cleaning supplies and donations to the cleanup area, said Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the center’s board of trustees.
“We've seen faith communities come together and take a clear stance against hatred,” said Faizan Syed, executive director of the Missouri chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations.
Jewish and Muslim communities are the most targeted religious groups, according to FBI data, and advocacy organizations report a rise in hate crimes during the past year.