VENTNOR — Solemnity usually hangs in the air during a Yom HaShoah Memorial Service, a Holocaust Remembrance event, but the speaker’s words Tuesday night carried extra poignancy after a series of recent shootings.

The ceremony at Shirat Hayam Synagogue was held in the wake of 11 people killed in October at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and one person killed Saturday at a San Diego synagogue.

Last year, 200 anti-Semitic incidents were documented across New Jersey, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise,” said Laura Oberlender, the Yom HaShoah guest speaker, who lives part time in Atlantic City. “It’s important for all of us to fight hatred when we are exposed to it.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League report, incidents that happened last year in this state included:

A Jewish couple being told they “should have been stuck in the oven of a Nazi concentration camp” by a building manager in February in Cumberland County.

A student at Stockton University discovered a swastika carved into the front door of his off-campus residence in November.

“While we are moderately encouraged to see a slight dip in anti-Jewish activity across New Jersey last year, we remain deeply concerned at the high levels of anti-Semitism in the Garden State,” said Nancy K. Baron-Baer, regional director of ADL’s Philadelphia Region, which serves southern New Jersey.

“We cannot allow these elevated numbers to become the new normal in New Jersey. Now is not the time to let up — we need our elected officials, law enforcement officers, faith leaders and community members to continue pushing back against anti-Semitism,” Baron-Baer said.

Dr. Michael Emmett, brother of Holocaust survivor Laura Oberlender, spoke during the service. The shooting in San Diego is a personal Holocaust for Gilbert-Kaye’s family, Emmett said.

The Talmud, the primary source of Jewish theology and religious law says the saving of one life is like the saving of the entire universe, and the killing of one life is like killing the entire universe, Emmett said.

This racism, hatred and anti-Semitic violence is being carried out by perpetrators who can’t tolerate those who are different from them, don’t think like them, or who don’t look like them, Emmett said.

“It’s imperative that all of us stand up and fight as much as you can to prevent those people from getting the upper hand,” Emmett said.

Rabbi Aaron Krauss, who gave the memorial service’s benediction, tried to give people a hopeful feeling before they walked out the door by showing how much the world has changed since the Holocaust.

The establishment of Israel changed the image of Jewish people 180 degrees, and the history of the Holocaust and those who died showed that the unimaginable was possible, Rabbi Krauss said.

The reaction of the world to the murder of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh and a wonderful Jewish woman in California and other acts of anti-Semitism reported in Europe and this country has been far, far greater than that for the death of their 6 million Jewish brothers and sister, Rabbi Krauss said.

“Let us hope and pray that when we reassemble next year that the world for people will be safer,” Rabbi Krauss said.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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