Anti-Semitic Cyberattack on Long Island Hebrew Academy


Ronan Mansfield

A cyberattack on a Long Island Hebrew academy brought to light the harsh reality of the rising anti-Semitism in the US.

The children of North Shore Hebrew Academy High School were stripped of their innocence in one of their very own safe spaces – school, on Dec. 14, 2020. The high school’s website homepage was plastered with anti-Semitic propaganda. Pictures of smiling faces and lesson plans quickly turned into Nazi SS soldiers and swastikas. The website, clearly a victim to a cyber-attack, was soon taken down from the Internet. This hate crime hit home for many teachers, parents, and students, during a time of the Jewish faith’s celebration of Hanukah.

That Monday morning, many awoke to see their high school’s name defaced to “North Shore Hebrew Concentration Camp.” Throughout the country, the sentiment of anti-Semitism is on the rise. For many students at the North Shore Hebrew Academy, seeing anti-Semitic attacks on the news has become the frightful norm. The destructive storm of anti-Semitism found its way too close to home for the Jewish students at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Their website was flooded with derogatory phrases, Nazi propaganda, and direct hate speech. On the website, the cyberattack included photos of Adolf Hitler, Nazi songs, and images of SS officers. One page even detailed a “field trip” to Auschwitz with the application deadline listed as “January 1945” and said students at the school would have to walk into an SS office and “declared themselves as Jews.”

The site was taken down by late Monday afternoon by the academy. The headmaster of the school made a statement after, saying, “We are aware of the situation and are actively working with law enforcement” (New York Post). The organization was alerted of the website breach with the Director Liora Rez releasing a statement saying, “We are horrified that hackers have begun targeting Jewish schools and exposing children to horrific Nazi imagery and messages. Many of these teens are descendants of Holocaust survivors, and generational trauma is often triggered when events like these occur” (New York Post).

Anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. are on the rise. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were more than 2,100 attacks of assault, vandalism, and harassment across the country in the US. Freshman Raquel Romano commented, “I believe what happened was absolutely disgusting. The rise of anti-Semitism in this country is profound and awful. More people in the media should be talking about these horrific events occurring throughout our country.” Junior Lexi Capitali also added, “It is horrible to think that children can be intimidated by terrorists in such a safe space. School should be a safe space for all kids to learn and grow in. Why throughout these last few years are we allowing terrorists to ruin that safe space for so many? These parents, teachers, and students deserve to learn and practice their faith without being attacked or diminished.”

Throughout all of the hatred imposed on the school during the week, hope perseveres. The anti-Semitic attack was intended to conspire pain amongst the Jewish community in North Shore; however, it had the opposite effect. Instead, supporters of the North Shore Hebrew Academy decided to raise scholarship money for students who might not have the finances to attend the school. Their GoFundMe has raised over $2,500 towards their goal of $40,000. Junior Emily Paladino said, “Despite all the hate in the world, the good always shines through. It was incredibly sad to hear of the cyberattack on the North Shore Hebrew Academy. However, when hearing about the fundraisers to help underprivileged children of the Jewish faith gain an education, it was truly inspiring.” These hateful individuals use their power to intimidate those they believe to be below them. They try their best to oppress their targets and discriminate them on the basis of faith. Unbeknownst to these anti-Semitic individuals, they are inspiring new opportunities for Jewish education and a whole new generation of changemakers.