Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, July 18, 2021.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has included more than $18.2 million in funding for Jewish schools, museums, and memorials in his proposed Florida state budget for fiscal year 2023-24.

The funding includes a record $5 million in security funding for Jewish day schools, Agudath Israel of Florida pointed out in a statement welcoming the proposed measures.

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The proposed state budget totals $114.8 billion.

Also last week, State Representative Mike Caruso introduced bipartisan legislation to combat antisemitism.

HB 269 would expand the definition of hate crimes and increase the penalties for such actions. The new definitions include the distribution of flyers, stalking, defacing graves and certain buildings, or projecting images on someone else’s property — if the act shows ethnic or religious animus.

The measure comes as a response to antisemitic messages and swastikas defacing buildings in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach as well as multiple instances of antisemitic materials being left outside of homes in Florida.

“The state of Florida is taking the threat of rising antisemitism seriously,” said Rabbi Moshe Matz, executive director of Agudath Israel of Florida.

“The recent public displays of antisemitism and distribution of antisemitic materials is deeply concerning to our community. We are heartened to see that Florida is taking action to respond.

“We are grateful to Governor Ron DeSantis who continues to provide strong support to the Jewish community in Florida, and to Representative Mike Caruso whose proposed legislation shows zero tolerance for antisemitism.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.