The following column from AJC Long Island Director Eric Post and Bob Vecchio, executive director of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association, appeared in the Long Island Herald.

The American Jewish Committee recently released its annual State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report, which revealed that 63 percent of American Jews say the status of Jews in the U.S. is “less secure than a year ago” — a 22-percentage-point increase in just one year, and a 32-point increase over two years.

Forty-six percent of American Jews say they have changed their behavior out of fear of antisemitism, a jump from 38 percent last year.

While these numbers are daunting and cause for concern, several of the key takeaways from the report, on Holocaust and antisemitism education, are positive.

AJC’s report found that 92 percent of American Jews, and 89 percent of all U.S. adults in the Northeast, believe it is important for public schools to invest more resources in teaching age-appropriate lessons about the Holocaust to all students. There is also overwhelming support among both the Jewish community and the general public for teaching modern manifestations of antisemitism in public schools.

We know that schools in New York state offer varying degrees of Holocaust education, in accordance with State Education Department regulations, and we also know that quality Holocaust education has been shown to reduce antisemitism and all forms of hate.

Jewish students, however, should not be seen solely through the lens of the Holocaust. We should incorporate the Jewish community in any diversity efforts, and encourage the celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month in May, to promote awareness and appreciation of Jewish contributions to American society.

In addition, over the past several years, school districts across Long Island have implemented character education initiatives to address all forms of hate and racism, and help students understand the consequences of actions and words on others.

It is critical that we also teach about the modern manifestations of antisemitism, not just the historical ones. Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel, we have seen a steep increase in antisemitic graffiti and incidents in Long Island public schools. This is on top of an already growing problem with antisemitism here and nationwide.

Given that antisemitism is often not well understood, education is crucial in fostering an environment with zero tolerance for anti-Jewish bigotry and all forms of hate. It is also critical to reassure Jewish families that districts see them in this moment, and are prioritizing their children’s safety and well-being. Several Jewish organizations, including AJC, offer training for students, teachers and administrators.

In these moments of uncertainty and anxiety for American Jewry, it is also important to consider what is being reported when Israel is in the news more than usual, as has been the case since Oct. 7. Criticism of Israel is not inherently antisemitic. In fact, it is a feature of its democracy, and Israelis do it all the time. But there are occasions when anti-Israel rhetoric can become antisemitic, including statements that deny the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

As noted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism, which has been adopted by the AJC and major American Jewish organizations, Nassau and Suffolk counties, New York state and the federal government, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic, but, for example, “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” does cross that line.

The IHRA definition can be helpful in evaluating whether antisemitism exists in school settings. Establishing a system to report antisemitism and all forms of hate, reviewing and publicizing key school policies, including social media, and communicating with families when antisemitism and hate occur are also vital.

The more we all know about antisemitism, the more we can identify it, fight it and keep it on the fringe of society. When that happens, not only Jews will feel more secure, we all will.