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Jewish leaders, community speak out after antisemitic message at Georgia/Florida game

Rabbi Nochum Karinsky of Chabad at the Beaches says this is the first time in two decades he's had to be concerned for his safety.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — More than 75,000 fans at the Georgia-Florida game could've witnessed an antisemitic message displayed on the back of TIAA Bank Field Saturday night.

The message was the latest in a string of antisemitic acts that have plagued Jacksonville for several months.

"I don't think this is a reflection of the broader, non-Jewish community in Northeast Florida," said Rabbi Nochum Karinsky of Chabad at the Beaches.

Karinsky has openly worn his faith on his sleeve for the two decades he's been in Jacksonville.

"I feel like for the first time since I've been here that I even had to consider, or that members of my family or congregation have ever had to consider our safety as Jewish people," said Karinsky.

Since April, Jacksonville has experienced several instances of Hate Speech against Jewish people.

Other incidents include flyers thrown in driveways on the East Side, banners hung over both I-95 and I-10.

READ MORE: Jacksonville community reacts to antisemitic messaging displayed around city

It all culminated this weekend, when messages were projected throughout downtown.

Karinsky says his congregation has rallied together in light of the string of events.

"There were people that specifically showed up and said, 'I want to go to services this week," said Karinsky. "I want to be there.' I think that's the best response. That's the best thing we can do."

Karinsky has felt support outside of the synagogue too,

Jacksonville's Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted his response on Sunday morning: 

"Jacksonville is a city made better because of its diversity. Those who spread messages of hate, racism and antisemitism will not be able to change the heart of this city or her people. I condemn these cowards and their cowardly messages."

Jacksonville City Council President Terrance Freeman also spoke out against the act: 

"Hate has no place in our city. Jacksonville stands with our Jewish neighbors and against disgusting anti-Semitic rhetoric."

Additionally, the University of Florida and University of Georgia released a joint statement, following the incident during the game: 

It's all left Karinsky asking himself one question:

"Because it's part of my life, the question is, what do I do with it? What can I do with this to make the world a better place," said Karinsky.


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