Evanston police will add higher visibility patrols around local synagogues, after several neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have called for a nationwide “Day of Hate” on Saturday, Feb. 25, that would include antisemitic activities.

Saturdays are “shabbat,” the Jewish sabbath.

The Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Jewish United Fund have sent notices to Jewish institutions, urging members to stay alert.

Evanston Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew tells Evanston Now that there are no known specific threats directed against Jewish institutions in Evanston. There are three houses of worship in town, along with the Hillel Jewish Student Center at Northwestern University.

Glew says EPD is monitoring the situation, and will respond accordingly if necessary.

The Jewish United Fund, in its message to synagogues, also says there are no known specific threats in the Chicago area, but called for vigilance.

The antisemitic groups involved in the possible hate actions are calling for graffiti, flyers and other forms of intimidation around the country. The social media call did not originate in the Chicago area.

At NU’s Hillel, Executive Director Michael Simon tells Evanston now there do not seem to be any credible local threats, but Jewish organizations are being told to exercise “heightened awareness.”

“We always have our eyes open,” Simon continues. Now, it’s time to “have our eyes open a little more than usual.”

A recent survey by the American Jewish Committee found that 41% of American Jews feel their “status in the United States is less secure than a year ago,” when the number was 31%.

Hillel’s Simon notes that “even when there’s not a credible threat, it adds to a sense of unease.”

He says that houses of worship want to have a sense of openness and community, but also need to keep safety in mind.

He hopes the latest potential targeting of Jewish institutions turns out to be nothing but words on the internet, and not physical action.

But even words can be frightening.

“It’s unnerving,” Simon adds, “that this is happening at all.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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