Sinai Temple Responds to More Antisemitic Flyers Found
By Gabby Hajduk
Just a week after anti-semitic flyers were found around the U of I campus, more flyers were found near Urbana residences over the weekend. According to a Facebook post by Sinai Temple C-U, various Urbana residents woke up on Saturday to flyers on their driveways filled with antisemitic speech.
Last Sunday, U of I Chancellor Robert Jones sent out a university Massmail responding to antisemitic flyers found in plastic bags with rocks found scattered around campus. Chancellor Jones firmly denounced the language used in the flyers and called the act "cowardly." Sinai Temple sent out a similar message on Facebook this Monday.
"Just as we denounced the conspiracy-fueled messages found on the U of I campus last weekend, we do so again today, and every time people choose hateful rhetoric and lies instead of love and acceptance of the Jewish community. We refuse to be bullied and intimidated because of our Jewish identity or to let this be accepted as normal."
With two separate antisemitic attacks on the Champaign-Urbana Jewish community, Sinai Temple President, Julia Rietz, has reason to believe this is part of a national attack. Within the last few weeks, there have been reports from around the country of these antisemitic flyers being left around different communities. Texas, Florida, California, Colorado, and Virginia are just some states that have reports of these flyers.
Rietz, who also serves as the State's Attorney believes these attacks can't technically be seen as criminal as everyone has the right to free speech in America. However, the fact that these instances are taking place around the country causes Rietz to be concerned about potential organized attacks in the future that could cause greater harm.
"The concern is, where does that go next? If people feel emboldened to behave that way, then what is going to be the next step that they may take against, someone in our community," Rietz said. "And we've seen that in other spaces, most recently in Texas, where the gunman held synagogue members and the rabbi hostage for hours and hours and hours. What is the next thing that's going to happen?"
Rietz and the Sinai Temple, along with other Jewish organizations in the community are continuing to work with local law enforcement to try and find the people responsible for these attacks. She said they are relying on the community as well to help provide any information. An important tool they are using is cameras whether in the public or from people's homes. Law enforcement has asked anyone with Ring doorbells or other surveillance outside their homes to bring in any footage that may help.
For now, Sinai Temple is continuing to spread awareness about the attacks while also educating the community on these situations and the speech that is being put on these flyers. Rietz said the Temple is also increasing security measures and keeping its doors locked, something Rietz is disappointed they have to do.
"There's a number of different organizations that are working together to put on educational opportunities and spread it spread information that is positive, and that educates people on these issues," Rietz said. "And then, of course, we are looking at our own buildings and our own facilities and seeing do we need to do, unfortunately, to protect ourselves to make sure that something doesn't happen in the future. We're having sessions on how to be aware of what's going on around you. And we have to have security, we have to have the doors locked, instead of allowing people to come and go freely. And that's an unfortunate part of the situation that really makes you, again, be concerned about what might happen next."