Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by more than a third in 2016 over the year before, according to an annual audit from the Anti--Defamation League. The jump was especially steep in Massachusetts, with a 150 percent increase.
Compared to other states, Massachusetts had the fifth highest number of anti-Semitic incidents last year, with a total of 125 episodes -- topped by only California, New Jersey, New York and Florida.
Robert Trestan, regional director of the New England office of the ADL, said political divisiveness is only one factor behind the increase.
"Whether it's directing hatred towards Jews or Muslims or the LGBTQ community," said Trestan, "we are living at a time when the dissemination of various forms of hate have moved into the mainstream. What is critical now is that we push back against this normalization of hate."
The majority of the anti-Semitic acts involved harassment, threats or vandalism. The number of incidents in schools more than doubled last year, according to the report. Trestan said his office is redoubling its efforts to work with educators.
"Every school in Massachusetts should be focusing on anti-bias education," he said. "Because the kids in school today represent the future, and they are the ones who have the power to stand up and prevent these things from occurring."
Trestan said talking openly with kids can help stop incidents from occurring again or escalating into violence.