For college senior Elisheva Asiag, campus antisemitism limited the graduate schools she’s applying to for her master’s in social work.

Asiag, 22, will graduate from Tuoro College this June with a degree in psychology.

“When I was looking into schools, my advisor (said) the University of Pennsylvania has a really good social work program and also NYU,” said Asiag. So I was thinking of applying to those places, but then all this stuff happened.”

The Montgomery County resident watched three university presidents being questioned by Congress and decided she did not want to go to Penn.

In that December hearing, former Penn President Liz Magill said calling for Jewish genocide is allowed “in context.” Her performance before Congress led to Magill’s resignation.

Asiag’s research also led her away from New York University.

“They didn’t defend the (Jewish) students, and then all the protests were going on, and things were happening to Jewish students on campus,” said Asiag. She thought, “I don’t have to put myself through that if I can go to a different place, that’s also good.”

She applied to Tuoro’s graduate social work program and the Wurweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University.

This week, the Antidefamation League (ADL) released a campus antisemitism report card for various colleges. Penn was graded “D,” Drexel “B,” and Swarthmore College “F.” The report card helps parents and students decide where to go to college.

The ADL used 21 criteria in three groups: administrative action and policies, incidents on campus and Jewish student life. Groups of 160 students per campus and “stakeholders,” such as Hillel and Chabad directors, were surveyed.

The report card warns that just because a school receives an “A” or “B” does not mean there is no antisemitism problem. It means the school complies with existing laws. Schools with “C” or “D” may support Jewish students but have a lower grade due to the severity or frequency of incidents.

ADL also reported Tuesday that there was a 140 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. in 2023, with a “massive spike” after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel and subsequent war.

In 2023, there were 8,873 incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism around the U.S., according to the ADL. Pennsylvania ranked sixth place among the states, with 86 acts of antisemitic vandalism and 303 incidents of harassment. Slightly more than a third of the vandalism included swastikas. Philadelphia had the most incidents, followed by Montgomery County and Chester County.

“The level of antisemitic activity has reached levels that I have never seen before,” said Andrew Goretsky, ADL Philadelphia’s regional director. “It is particularly concerning that in Pennsylvania, we documented five assaults in 2023, all perpetrated against schoolchildren. This does not include over 300 incidents of harassment. Jewish children and adults are being targeted simply for being Jews. When antisemitism is left unchecked, it paves the way for broader waves of intolerance, putting other communities at risk. It is imperative to identify and confront antisemitic incidents as the despicable acts of hatred they are, affirming that such behavior is utterly unacceptable.”

Asiag has not experienced an antisemitic incident directly, but the last six and a half months since the Oct. 7 attack and Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza have her on edge.  Posters of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas that were placed on her dorm walls in New York have been repeatedly torn down. She thought about buying a hostage dog tag necklace but is concerned it would “put a target on my back” as she takes public transit in New York City.

“I thought we were more progressive, in today’s generation, and that people would be more accepting,” said Asiag. “But when something happens to us, you see that people don’t really care about Jewish people and just turn on you in two seconds.”

“Bam, your whole world gets turned upside down.”

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