ADL: Antisemitic Incidents in New Jersey Reach Highest Levels Ever Recorded in 2021

According to new data released by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today, reported antisemitic incidents in 2021 rose by 25% in New Jersey, reaching 370 total incidents – the highest number ever recorded by ADL in the state and the second-highest number recorded in any state across the country last year. These 370 incidents in New Jersey constitute 14% 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 2,717 incidents in 2021, a 34% increase relative to 2020 numbers and a 29% increase over the previous all-time high in 2019 of 2,107 incidents.

The 2021 data appear to represent a return to pre-pandemic trends, though the 370 incidents recorded in New Jersey still significantly exceeds the previous record high number of incidents, which was 345 in 2019.

According to the data, New Jersey experienced increases in antisemitic incidents across all three main categories compiled by ADL – harassment, vandalism and assault.

In total, ADL recorded the following number of antisemitic incidents in New Jersey in 2021:

252 incidents of harassment;
112 incidents of vandalism; and
6 incidents of assault.
ADL’s data show that incidents increased across all three main categories in New Jersey. ADL recorded 252 incidents of antisemitic harassment in 2021, representing a 34% increase relative to 2020. The 112 incidents of antisemitic vandalism recorded in 2021 represent a 7% increase relative to 2020. ADL also recorded 6 incidents of antisemitic assault, a concerning increase relative to the 2 incidents recorded in 2020.

“We are alarmed by the dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents in New Jersey – disturbing fact emblematic of a larger national problem,” said Scott Richman, Regional Director of ADL’s New York/New Jersey office serving Northern and Central New Jersey. “Jewish communities in New Jersey are dealing with record levels of antisemitism, and ADL is working closely with victims, schools, law enforcement, elected officials, and faith and community leaders to help reverse this trend.”

Of the 370 antisemitic incidents recorded in New Jersey in 2020, 123 took place in public areas, 82 took place in non-Jewish K-12 schools, 44 took place at Jewish institutions, 40 occurred at private residences, 35 took place at business establishments, and 29 took place online.

Of particular concern were the 44 incidents that took place at Jewish institutions in 13 different counties – a significant 76% increase compared to the 25 incidents recorded in 2020. These incidents included 39 incidents of harassment, 4 incidents of vandalism and 1 incident of assault, signaling an alarming trend towards the commission of antisemitic acts at institutions that symbolize the Jewish community as a whole – such as synagogues, temples, Jewish schools, Jewish museums, Jewish summer camps and Jewish community centers.

Thirty-five percent of all incidents in New Jersey involved the display of a Nazi swastika, which has served as the most significant and notorious of hate symbols of antisemitism and white supremacy for a very sizeable proportion of the world.

ADL documented the highest number of antisemitic incidents in the following counties in New Jersey:

  • Bergen (70);
  • Ocean (44);
  • Middlesex (31);
  • Union (30); and
  • Mercer (39)

In addition, ADL recorded more than 20 antisemitic incidents in each of Monmouth, Essex and Morris Counties.

ADL documented a dramatic increase in reported antisemitic incidents in Bergen County in particular, from 35 incidents in 2020 to 70 incidents in 2021. Of the 70 reported incidents, 49 were incidents of harassment and 21 were incidents of vandalism. Moreover, 28 of the 70 incidents involved the display of a swastika, and 24 took place at a K-12 school. In one notable Bergen County incident, a man smashed the windows of a doctor’s office with a hammer and asked patients, “Are you Jewish?”

While reported antisemitic incidents decreased slightly in Ocean County last year, Ocean County still had the second-highest number of reported incidents in 2021. Notably, 3 of the 6 antisemitic assaults that reportedly took place in New Jersey in 2021 occurred in Ocean County.

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