The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis —  issues an urgent call for the restoration of civility and respect in New York City in these challenging times. Disagreement, even vehement disagreement, must take place within the boundaries of constructive debate. In order to improve society, we must make a future in which we can live together. Violence moves us farther away from that goal.

Sadly, heightened tensions in New York City between protesters and police have led to verbal altercations and physical violence. In the name of peace and unity, RAA Executive Vice President Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik declared, “The issues of systemic racism and legal inequities must be resolved. In that process, we cannot in any manner countenance the violence directed at the intrepid men and women who serve valiantly in the NYPD. We are descending into anarchy, well into a dangerous zone where innocent people fear for their lives.”    

Mirocznik’s comments were a response to the violence that took place early Wednesday morning on the Brooklyn Bridge, when anti-police demonstrators assaulted seven police officers, including NYPD Chief of Department Terrance Monahan.

“The reprehensible attack on Chief Monahan and other police officers, while they were arresting a violent protester, crosses a moral and ethical boundary. As a society that is ostensibly predicated on civility and respect, we cannot tolerate a message that assaulting or harming police officers is acceptable behavior,” Rabbi Mirocznik added.

Because tensions between diametrically opposed factions in New York City are at a boiling point, Mirocznik called for local community boards, elected officials and neighborhood activists to convene for respectful dialogue to calm the hostilities and restore peace, stability, respect and civility to this great city.

Mirocznik said that as the summer progresses, he expects more demonstrations and violence, which heightens the need to quell the menacing atmosphere that has gripped New York City. “With crime soaring to unprecedented heights in New York and dozens of shootings taking place within hours of each other, residents of this great city are naturally uneasy and even frightened. The time is long overdue for the forces of peace to take a greater initiative in tackling this problem before it completely spirals out of control.”  

Mirocznik further stated that we must “take the time to demonstrate our appreciation of the men and women of law enforcement. When you see a first-responder or police officer, please take a moment to thank them and tell them how much you appreciate their service. We are surviving the pandemic of Covid 19 thanks to their steadfast dedication to the residents of this city. We must always be grateful for the law enforcement officers who heroically do their job in an exemplary fashion.”

Mirocznik added, “the recent budget cuts to the NYPD are detrimental to the safety and security of all residents of New York City, particularly the Jewish community. We had already seen positive results from community outreach and partnership programs, Neighborhood Coordinating Officers, as well as the youth officer program and tremendous outreach efforts by the NYPD. These efforts produced a tangible reduction in crime and the building of communication, trust with the community. We are saddened by the possibility of the cutting of these successful programs for budgetary reasons.” 

In the few short weeks since the disbanding of the anti-crime unit, we have experienced a crime wave of shootings and homicides, demonstrating the effectiveness of these discontinued anti-crime programs. The RAA calls upon our elected representatives to take note of this tragic reality and to adequately fund and staff the programs that will reverse the spiraling descent of crime. In order to protect innocent lives and maintain peace in the city, we need to increase mutual respect, constructive dialogue, and protection for the most vulnerable. Now is the time for local community leaders to bring the city together for dialogue, reconciliation, and progress.