New numbers reveal anti-semitic incidents are rising dramatically in Florida

Up 50 Percent from 2015 to 2016
Posted at 7:30 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 19:30:52-04

When the bomb squad had to go into the Tampa JCC Preschool South, multiple times in the first months of this year it was Rabbi Josh Hearshen, who went in with police.

"When the police said they needed someone to go in there and see if this belonged here or if this was out of place  it was my job," he says.

He didn't believe the threat was real, but he did call his wife before he stepped inside.

"Let her know I was going into the building and that I loved her, I knew I was going to talk to her and my daughter that night, I wasn't worried but I did have that moment of fear as we all would," he says.

While the FBI tracked down the 18-year-old Israeli man they say orchestrated the campaign of bomb threats, a new report from the anti-defamation league reveals Anti-Semitism is growing across the US and the numbers show Florida has a problem.

91 incidents in 2015, 137 in 2016, and so far this year 41 cases, which is on pace for 164 that would be an 80 percent jump from two years ago.  The biggest increase coming from harassment reports is up 95 percent from 2015.

Rabbi Hearshen says the numbers underscore a sentiment that's been simmering beneath the surface and is now boiling over.

"There's a growing sense of resentments of people who don't come from the same background. The numbers are daunting I agree and we can't look away from them we have to continue to fight back but that fight back need to come from a place of respect and humility and of constantly knowing that we will do better," he says.

And the numbers are up nationwide. Harassment incidents, including bomb threats, have increased 127 percent in the first few months of 2017 compared to the same quarter last year.