American Jews Feel Worried, Unsafe—New Poll

Fearing that wearing symbols in public that identify them as Jewish will make them targets, 42% of American Jews have felt uncomfortable showing their faith since October 7, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

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The figure represents an increase of 16% since the identical question concerning “publicly wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify you as a Jew out of fear of antisemitism” was asked in an AJC survey taken eight months earlier.

7% of Jews have considered leaving the country due to antisemitism.

While 72% of respondents said that being Jewish was important in their lives, more than 27% now decline to disclose their religion when meeting someone new.

17% of those surveyed say they have felt unsafe in a conversation about recent events in the Middle East. 13% say that friendships have ended over heated discussions about the conflict, and 12% have ended a relationship after the former friend “expressed antisemitic views.” A majority—53%—say they simply avoid the subject entirely.

The survey, which polled 1,001 Jewish adults earlier this spring and was published earlier this month, also reveals that 7% of Jews have considered leaving the country due to antisemitism.

“7% looks like a small number, but in fact, for Jews who have looked to America as a haven of safety and prosperity, this number is actually quite striking,” said Alexandra Herzog, AJC’s deputy director of contemporary Jewish life.

Additionally, 27% of those polled said they didn’t feel safe in Jewish institutions like community centers or synagogues.

The poll results are in line with reports from the Anti-Defamation League and Muslim civil rights organizations as well as law enforcement agencies that there have been alarming spikes in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents—all dating back to October 7.

The AJC survey, moreover, parallels an earlier poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and commissioned by the Jewish Federations of America.

In that poll—taken from October 29 to November 1, 2023, and surveying 3,777 American adults, including 2,199 Jews—nearly 30% said they were personally aware of “physical acts of violence or acts of hate” against Jews in their communities.

32% described themselves or their community as “tense,” 21% as “uncomfortable” and 20% as “scary.”

42% of Jews surveyed in the Benenson poll reported they worry for their personal safety “very much” or “all the time,” with an additional 30% describing themselves as “somewhat worried.”

One statistic that has remained unchanged across the 2023 Benenson poll and the current AJC survey is that more than 80% of Jews feel antisemitism is a growing problem in America.