What antisemitism means for Gen Z-ers

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Gianna Gronowski | Staff Writer

Antisemitism manifests differently in the lives of each generation, but Jewish educator Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath has some advice for how Gen Z can navigate it in their day-to-day lives.

(iStock / Getty Images Plus / Syuzanna Guseynova)

Vinokor-Meinrath, of the Jewish Education Project, gave a virtual presentation last week to viewers from the Rockville-based Haberman Institute about her research on antisemitism, with insights from students, activists and personal experiences.

The American Jewish Committee’s 2021 State of Antisemitism in American report found that 90% of Jewish respondents believe that antisemitism is a problem in the United States. According to the report, four in 10 American Jews have changed their behavior at least once out of fear of antisemitism.

Vinokor-Meinrath, the Brooklyn-based Jewish Education Project’s senior director of knowledge, ideas and learning, told her audience that Gen Z Jews face misguided antisemitism in new ways, such as being asked by friends their “Jewish opinion” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When faced with such a question, to determine what crosses the line from a legitimate question or criticism of Israel to antisemitism, Vinokor-Meinrath said to follow the “3-D test.”

The three points bring up three questions. The first question is if there is demonization of Israel or the Israeli people, particularly on Israeli soldiers being manifested as less than human. The second D is delegitimization, or questioning the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state. The final D is double standard, or questioning if other countries are being asked comparable questions.

Vinokor-Meinrath said young Jewish people who do not want to take up the mantle of Jewish educators have the freedom to do so, if their decision is not a reflection in the context of antisemitism. “I think it’s a key factor,” she said. “Understanding that is part of how we’re able to understand the contemporary Jewish experience of that moment.”

“Antisemitism isn’t going away, but the tone and context of the attacks on our community continue to change,” says Matt Silverman, executive director of the Haberman Institute. “As a father of two middle school students and a Jewish communal professional, I see how important it is to understand on a deeper level what we’re up against right now, so that our approaches to combat it match the times.”

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