HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — A spike in anti-semitic beliefs and presence of hate crimes has impacted Jewish communities across the nation.
What You Need To Know
- Yarn Blooming is an initiative by STEAP (Storytelling, Education & Art Programs), aiming to bring the city’s diverse communities together through knitting
- A spike in anti-semitic beliefs and presence of hate crimes impacts Jewish communities across the nation
- The recorded numbers in 2022 were the highest since 1992, according to an Anti-Defamation League survey
As Rabbi Rachael Jackson takes a stroll on Main Street, she immediately sees symbols that she feels connected to.
Each tree wears a strong coat of yarn, displaying symbols and colors that represent communities across Hendersonville, including one Jackson holds close to her heart — the Jewish community.
“These trees, they’re individual, but their beauty comes from being right next to each other,” Jackson said.
Yarn Blooming is an initiative by STEAP (Storytelling, Education & Art Programs) to emphasize a growing community with an emphasis on unity. The Yarn Blooming project will be displayed on the trees until March.
When the Jewish sisterhood was asked to participate, Jackson had brief hesitations.
“Well, should we participate?” Jackson said. “There is some anti-semitism ... nah, it’s for the best! It’s for the best for us. It’s for the best for the community, and it’s just good for the soul!”
That anti-semitism includes information released from an Anti-Defamation League survey. It found a spike in the percentage of Americans who hold anti-semitic beliefs. The recorded numbers in 2022 were the highest since 1992.
As Jackson prepares for a Shabbat service, these numbers are what make her feel the need to protect her congregation.
“The freedom of religion, at least for Jews, means we have to do all these things to protect ourselves,” Jackson said. “If we’re doing all these things, then we have the opportunity to feel comfort.”
As she takes these steps, it introduces different emotions inside her synagogue.
“Owning a panic button here, I get very sad,” Jackson said. “I get hurt that that's even something that we have to have, that we can’t just pray how we want to pray and where we want to pray.”
This doesn’t stop her community from joining public art projects and showing their presence in western North Carolina.
“I overwhelm that emotion with hope,” Jackson said. “I can’t sit in the sadness. I hold it. I honor it, and then I set it down. I say I am hopeful, and I am active. How am I doing that? Because I let people know that we’re here, we’re out in the community and that we’re not hiding.”