Signage calls out antisemitism in Mercer County neighborhoods 

The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks has announced its leadership of an intensive effort to combat antisemitism locally and help create a safer environment for Jewish individuals living in the greater Mercer region. An awareness campaign will be visible throughout Mercer County from May 2-27 during Jewish American Heritage Month.

Antisemitism, which has been spiking across the United States, reached new heights in 2021 according to an April 26 report from the Anti-Defamation League, and New Jersey’s Mercer County has been rated in the Top 5 state counties for most documented antisemitic incidents in 2020.

Tackling this issue, the nonprofit Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks has announced its leadership of an intensive effort to combat antisemitism locally and help create a safer environment for Jewish individuals living in the greater Mercer region.

The Jewish Federation, in partnership with JewBelong, is bringing their bright pink awareness campaign to the central New Jersey county. JewBelong, a nonprofit organization known for antisemitism awareness, has launched major visibility campaigns in U.S. cities from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and most recently Miami.

The Mercer County campaign’s outdoor, print and online advertising will be visible May 2-29, according to information provided by the Jewish Federation. The campaign includes a Jewish American Heritage Festival event scheduled for 2-5 p.m. May 15 in Princeton’s Palmer Square, featuring Kosher food trucks and musical performances by the Maccabeats and Princeton University’s Jewish a cappella group Koleinu.

The campaign’s creative centers on short, thought-provoking statements, such as one roadway sign reading, “Can a billboard end antisemitism? No,” it answers, underscoring the importance of individual action: “But you’re not a billboard,” according to the statement.

Other bus wraps and print and digital ads offer powerful affirmations such as, “I promise to love being Jewish 10x more than anyone hates me for it.” Another challenges doubters to walk a mile in another person’s shoes: “Here’s an idea: Let’s ask everyone who’s wondering if Jew hate is real to wear a yarmulke for a week, and report back.”

According to the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, advertisements have been secured in varied media, including:

  • A prominent billboard on Route 1.
  • Five New Jersey Transit buses and shuttles with routes through Mercer County.
  • Half-page advertisements in all local Mercer County newspapers.

“May is Jewish American Heritage Month, and we can’t think of any better moment to create awareness of the antisemitism Jews across our county face, especially our youth who have experienced hate through social media and bias at school,” Daniel Herscovici, president of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, said in the statement. “Our wish is that Jews across New Jersey and nationwide hold their heads high and be proud of who they are.”

Says Mark Merkovitz, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, “Our trustees and members are actively supporting this special and timely campaign to combat creeping antisemitism in our region. We experienced a shocking 93% increase in antisemitic incidents in Mercer County in 2020 along with rising distribution of white supremacist propaganda. It’s time to make a bold statement against these dangerous trends.”

Merkovitz added that the Anti-Defamation League has reported that nationwide, antisemitic incidents remain at historically high levels with thousands of reported occurrences. Last year, in fact, followed the third-highest year for antisemitic incidents both in New Jersey and across the nation, according to the statement.

“Antisemitism has become tolerated and normalized in far too many circles across North America,” cofounder of JewBelong, Archie Gottesman, said in the statement. “The type of hate leveled against Jews followed by the deafening silence from supposedly good people should be abhorrent to anyone who stands for justice. You don’t have to be a historian to know that being quiet about hate doesn’t stop the haters — it emboldens them. The time when Jewish people would remain silent in hopes that the hate would disappear has long passed.”

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