According to new data released by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today, reported antisemitic incidents in 2022 rose by 10% in New Jersey, reaching 408 total incidents – the highest number ever recorded by ADL in the state and the third-highest number recorded in any state across the country last year. This is on the heels of a record-breaking year in 2021, which saw a 25% increase from 2020. These 408 incidents in New Jersey constitute 11% of the total number of antisemitic incidents recorded across the United States last year.
Nationally, reported antisemitic incidents in the United States hit an all-time high of 3,697 incidents in 2022, a 36% increase relative to 2021 numbers (2,717 incidents) and a 75% increase over the previous all-time high in 2019 of 2,107 incidents.
The 2022 New Jersey data reflects a disturbing increase from last year’s record high of 370 antisemitic incidents and the pre-pandemic record of 345 incidents in 2019.
According to the data, New Jersey experienced increases in documented antisemitic incidents in two of the three main categories compiled by ADL – harassment, vandalism and assault.
Major New Jersey Findings
In total, ADL recorded the following number of antisemitic incidents in New Jersey in 2022:
- 244 incidents of harassment;
- 155 incidents of vandalism; and
- 9 incidents of assault.
The 244 incidents of antisemitic harassment documented in 2022 represent a 3% decrease relative to 2021, but a 30% increase from the prior all-time high of 188. The 155 incidents of antisemitic vandalism recorded in 2022 represent a 38% increase relative to 2021. ADL also recorded 9 incidents of antisemitic assault, a concerning 50% increase above the previously record-high number recorded in 2021.
“We are alarmed by another record-setting year for antisemitic incidents in New Jersey, mirroring the trend we saw nationally,” said Scott Richman, Regional Director of ADL’s New York/New Jersey office serving Northern and Central New Jersey. “ADL is working closely with victims, schools, law enforcement, elected officials, and faith and community leaders to combat these record levels of antisemitism.”
Of the 408 antisemitic incidents recorded in New Jersey in 2022, 137 took place in public areas, 120 took place in non-Jewish K-12 schools, 46 took place at Jewish institutions, 44 occurred at private residences and 37 took place at business establishments. The remaining 24 incidents occurred at colleges/universities (17) or online (7).
The 46 incidents that took place at Jewish institutions, in 13 different counties, represent a 5% increase relative to the record-high number recorded in 2021. These incidents included 39 incidents of harassment, 5 incidents of vandalism and 2 incidents of assault, signaling an alarming trend towards the commission of antisemitic acts at institutions that symbolize the Jewish community as a whole – synagogues, Jewish schools, Jewish museums, Jewish summer camps and Jewish community centers. Notably, in November 2022, the F.B.I. notified the Jewish community of a broad state-wide threat targeting New Jersey synagogues, which resulted in the arrest of a Middlesex County man who wrote in his manifesto, shared via social media, that he “did target a synagogue for a really good reason . . ..”
Of particular concern to ADL were the 120 antisemitic incidents that took place at non-Jewish K-12 schools – a 46% increase from 2021. These incidents included 55 incidents of harassment and 65 incidents of vandalism. 84 (70%) of these incidents included the use of a swastika. Notably, 44 (37%) of the 120 incidents at non-Jewish K-12 schools occurred in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The year 2022 also saw a rise in incidents directed towards Orthodox Jews, both in New Jersey and nationally. New Jersey recorded 30 antisemitic incidents specifically directed at Orthodox Jews in 2022; all 9 of the assaults recorded in New Jersey targeted Orthodox Jews. Notably, one of these 9 assaults was a violent spree of 4 separate acts, which injured 4 Orthodox Jewish members of the Lakewood community.
In 2022, 163 incidents involved swastikas – up 23% from 2021. In fact, 40% of all incidents in New Jersey involved the display of a Nazi swastika, which serves as the most significant and notorious symbol of antisemitism and white supremacy. Forty-eight (29%) of these incidents occurred in the fourth quarter of 2022.
ADL documented the highest number of antisemitic incidents in the following five counties in New Jersey:
- Ocean (62);
- Bergen (45);
- Monmouth (42);
- Middlesex (41); and
- Essex (33).
In addition, ADL recorded more than 20 antisemitic incidents in each of Camden (28), Passaic (27), Union (22), Morris (21) and Mercer (20) Counties.
ADL documented a dramatic 41% increase in reported antisemitic incidents in Ocean County, from 44 incidents in 2021 to 62 incidents in 2022 – taking the lead spot from Bergen County. Of the 62 reported incidents in Ocean County, 39 were incidents of harassment, 19 were incidents of vandalism and 4 were assaults. Moreover, 16 of the 62 incidents in Ocean County involved the display of a swastika and 31 took place in a public space. Notably, there were 4 assaults in Ocean County in 2022. One of these incidents was a spree of violent assaults in April 2022, which injured 4 Orthodox Jewish members of the Lakewood community over the course of a full day. An Ocean County man was charged with willfully causing bodily injury to the 4 victims and attempting to kill and cause injuries with dangerous weapons to 3 of them – all because they were Jewish.
While reported antisemitic incidents decreased in Bergen County last year, Bergen County still had the second-highest number of reported incidents in New Jersey in 2022. Nineteen of these incidents occurred in non-Jewish K-12 schools and 15 of them occurred in public spaces. Twenty-five of these incidents were harassment, and 16 were incidents of vandalism.
Although Hudson County ranked 11th for number of antisemitic incidents in New Jersey in 2022, the number of recorded antisemitic incidents jumped from 4 to 18 (a 350% increase), and included 3 of the 9 recorded antisemitic assaults in New Jersey. Notably, Camden County saw a dramatic 65% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2022 and Monmouth County saw a 56% increase.
Our Audit reflects incidents of antisemitism in 20 of the 21 counties in New Jersey.
The 9 documented antisemitic assaults in 2022 represent a sharp increase relative to the previous four-year average of 4 assaults per year. The jump in assaults in New Jersey in 2021 follows a trend of increased assaults nationwide, with 110 total antisemitic assaults documented across the United States last year – a 20% increase from 2021.
Notably, 1 of the 9 antisemitic assaults in New Jersey was a spree of violent assaults on 4 different members of the Orthodox community, in and around Lakewood (as mentioned above). This single spree included a violent car-jacking, two car rammings and a stabbing, resulting in injuries to 4 victims. Other assaults included a BB gun shooting in Lakewood and 3 different incidents of rock throwing in Union City (Hudson County). Of particular concern, all 9 antisemitic assaults in New Jersey in 2022 were directed against members of the Orthodox Jewish community. This follows the regional and national trend of rising assaults against Orthodox Jews. In 2022, there were 46 assaults against Orthodox Jews in New York State (representing 64% of all New York State assaults) and 59 assaults against Orthodox Jews nationally (representing 53% of all national assaults). Nationwide, Jewish individuals were punched, slapped, chased, targeted with fireworks, eggs, garbage and, in multiple cases, shot with BB guns.
In 2022, ADL recorded 46 antisemitic incidents that took place at Jewish institutions, a 5% increase from the record-breaking 2021 figures and a 46% increase over the average of 25 incidents per year for the prior four years. Of the 46 reported incidents at Jewish institutions, 39 were incidents of harassment, 5 were incidents of vandalism and 2 were incidents of assault; these incidents took place in 13 different counties across New Jersey. Six incidents at Jewish institutions were Israel or Zionism-related.
Of particular concern, there were 11 bomb threats against Jewish institutions and 2 assaults at Jewish institutions in 2022. Nine of those bomb threats were against the same Jewish community center and 5 of those 9 bomb threats occurred in a single month (March). Nationally, bomb threats were at the highest number recorded in over 5 years, with 91 recorded bomb threats. Notably, in November 2022, the F.B.I. issued a broad state-wide threat warning for New Jersey synagogues, which resulted in the arrest of a Middlesex County man who wrote in his manifesto, shared via social media, that he “did target a synagogue for a really good reason . . ..”
Israel and Zionism-Related Incidents
Incidents related to Israel or Zionism in New Jersey decreased by 48% in 2022, reaching a total of 14 incidents. This follows a national trend of a decrease in incidents related to Israel and Zionism in 2022, with 241 incidents nationwide (compared to 345 in 2021). The year 2021 included the Israel-Hamas conflict in May and had an unusually high number of such incidents, both nationally and in New Jersey. The lower number in 2022 reflects the impact that global events can have locally; moreover, ADL does not include anti-Israel incidents that do not have an element of explicit antisemitism in the Audit.
An alarmingly large number of antisemitic incidents took place in educational institutions in 2022. In total, there were 120 antisemitic incidents reported in non-Jewish K-12 schools, a 46% increase from 2021, and 24% higher than the greatest number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded by ADL in this category, which occurred in 2019 (when 97 incidents were recorded in non-Jewish K-12 schools). Notably, 44 (37%) of the 120 incidents at non-Jewish K-12 schools occurred in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Of the 120 reported antisemitic incidents in non-Jewish K-12 schools in 2022, 54 were incidents of harassment and 65 were incidents of vandalism. A staggering 84 incidents involved the use or display of a swastika, and several schools experienced multiple incidents involving swastikas. One of the incidents at a Bergen County high school was extremist-related.
In addition to antisemitic vandalism, New Jersey K-12 students were subjected to Heil Hitler salutes and verbal attacks, which included language such as, “Jews belong back in the chambers,” “Kill the Jews,” “Aren’t you supposed to be in concentration camps,” and “What are you looking at Jew? I wish the Nazis took you, too.” There were also large-scale school incidents, such as the air-dropping of antisemitic images in a school cafeteria in Union County and the unauthorized use of a student’s email account to send a hateful, antisemitic message to most of the student body at a Bergen County high school.
In 2022, Bergen County led New Jersey with 19 antisemitic incidents in this category, followed by Essex County with 15. Monmouth and Burlington Counties also had 10 or more antisemitic incidents in non-Jewish K-12 schools.
“No student should feel unsafe or suffer from bias, discrimination or hate in school. Yet, antisemitic incidents in schools have reached unprecedented levels. The 46% increase that we saw in New Jersey schools is unfortunately in line with the 49% increase seen nationally,” said Scott Richman, ADL’s Regional Director for New York and New Jersey. “Our goal is to keep pushing back against this disturbing increase and create safe and inclusive school climates. We look forward to continuing our work with educators in New Jersey to help them combat antisemitism and all forms of hate in schools through our anti-bias and anti-bullying programs, which are growing in New Jersey each year.”
In 2022, ADL recorded 17 antisemitic incidents on New Jersey college campuses. While it was not a significant increase from the 16 recorded in 2021, it is the largest number recorded to-date and evidences the growing trend of increased antisemitism on New Jersey campuses. The largest notable increase was 10 incidents of vandalism, up from 5 in 2021. In addition, ADL recorded 6 incidents of harassment, 5 incidents involving swastikas and 1 incident of offensive literature distribution.
Of particular concern to ADL was the continued targeting of the Rutgers University Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity house, which experienced two incidents of antisemitism in 2022. One was an incident of vandalism, where eggs were thrown at the house. The other incident involved protestors outside the AEPi house calling the members of the fraternity baby killers and terrorists. This follows 3 recorded antisemitic incidents at the fraternity in 2021; two of these were eggings.
William Patterson University had two incidents of swastika vandalism in 2022. These incidents occurred within 2 weeks of each other.
Extremism and White Supremacist Activity
Notwithstanding a 46% decrease in extremist-related antisemitic incidents in New Jersey in 2022 (13 incidents, down from 24 in 2021), white supremacist groups continued to maintain an active presence in New Jersey using propaganda to both communicate their hateful messages more broadly and recruit new members. Despite this decrease in explicitly antisemitic white supremacist propaganda, the potential for all types of white supremacist activity to provoke fear and anxiety in Jewish communities should not be discounted. In fact, there were 73 instances of white supremacist propaganda distribution in New Jersey in 2022. The white supremacist group Patriot Front was responsible for 44 (60%) of them. The New Jersey European Heritage Association, White Lives Matter and The Goyim Defense League were also active in New Jersey in 2022.
The Patriot Front, the most active white supremacist group in New Jersey in 2022, was also responsible for 80% of white supremacist propaganda distributions nationally in 2022. Since rebranding in October 2018, Patriot Front has used a cynical iteration of “patriotism” to promote its white supremacist and neo-fascist ideology. In 2022, the group added yard signs to its repertoire, and stayed on “brand,” using red, white and blue colors in its propaganda. The group continues to avoid using traditional white supremacist language and symbols in its messaging, instead using ambiguous phrasing like “For the Nation Against the State,” “Revolution is Tradition,” “Reclaim America,” “America First” and “One Nation Against Immigration.”
At a national level, 953 antisemitic incidents (26% of the national total of 3,697 antisemitic incidents) were attributable to extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideologies, reaching an all-time high with a 100% increase from last year. 852 of those 953 incidents were white supremacist antisemitic propaganda distributions. To learn more about white supremacist propaganda distribution in 2022, click here: https://www.adl.org/resources/report/white-supremacist-propaganda-soars-all-time-high-2022
The year 2022 saw a rise in antisemitic incidents directed towards Orthodox Jews, both in New Jersey and nationally. New Jersey recorded 30 antisemitic incidents directed towards Orthodox Jews in 2022, including all 9 of New Jersey’s assaults (as explained above). In one incident, two visibly Orthodox Jews walking to synagogue on Shabbat (Saturday) morning in Lakewood, New Jersey (Ocean County) were assaulted by a snow plow operator, who appeared to deliberately lower his shovel, showering them with snow and ice. The assault was recorded by the snow plow’s passenger – with the driver and passenger both laughing as they drove away – and posted online with the caption “This ones [sic] for you JC.”
In another Lakewood assault, an Orthodox Jewish individual was shot with a BB gun by a person yelling, “Hey Jew.” In Hudson County, there were three separate incidents involving a rock being thrown at a visibly Jewish person.
The most violent antisemitic assault (also discussed above) occurred over the course of a Friday afternoon and evening, when a suspect violently attacked Orthodox Jewish people in Lakewood, New Jersey. In all, 4 members of the Orthodox community were hospitalized, some with life threatening injuries.
Nineteen of the 30 incidents involving Orthodox Jews occurred in Ocean (8) or Monmouth (11) Counties. The remaining incidents occurred in Bergen, Hudson, Union and Morris Counties.
Underreporting continues to be a challenge in many communities, as victims of bias crimes and antisemitic incidents – particularly those in marginalized communities – face significant barriers to reporting in the first instance. ADL continues to work with elected officials, law enforcement leaders and community members across New Jersey to tackle these problems head-on. ADL encourages all members of the public to report incidents of antisemitism directly to ADL here: https://www.adl.org/report-incident
The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs, as well as vandalism and assault. Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of antisemitism and other forms of bigotry.
The complete dataset for antisemitic incidents for 2016-2022 is available on ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map, an interactive online tool that allows users to geographically chart antisemitic incidents and extremist activity.
The Audit offers a snapshot of one of the ways American Jews encounter antisemitism, but a full understanding of antisemitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including public opinion polling, assessments of online antisemitism and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as the ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews, Survey on Jewish Americans’ Experiences with Antisemitism, ADL Global 100, Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience, Murder and Extremism and White Supremacist Propaganda.
ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all. More at www.adl.org.