The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis — calls for vigilance in light of wave of anti-Semitic crimes. As reported in the media and confirmed by the Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, one of the largest centers of the worldwide Jewish community, the NYPD is investigating two possible anti-Semitic hate crimes commited on Saturday, May 22, 2021 after a week of repeated anti-Semitic hate crimes. A palpable sense of fear has descended on the New York Jewish community due to the ongoing anti-Semitic violence and hatred.
On the evening of Saturday, May 22, 2021, two Jewish teens were assaulted on Ocean Parkway and 18th Avenue. The victims reported that they were forced to say “Free Palestine” while being punched. A Muslim Uber driver saved their lives when he passed by, saw what was happening and drove them to safety. Meanwhile, a short while later, a group of men exited a vehicle on 16th Avenue and 49th Street in the heart of Borough Park, and began yelling anti-Semitic slurs at Jews on the street. One man reportedly spit at Jewish pedestrians while yelling “kill the Jews.” Another man punched a car mirror, breaking it.
Among the attacks earlier in the week in New York, a man set fire to a yeshiva and synagogue in Borough Park, a man wearing a yarmulke was attacked by a mob in Times Square, and Palestinian protesters threw fireworks into the streets of a heavily Jewish business district in Manhattan. These are in addition to anti-Semitic attacks across the country, particularly in Los Angeles, California.
“It’s absolutely disgusting and unacceptable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on WNYC public radio. “We had a man viciously beaten simply because he appeared to some individuals to be Jewish. We had folks throwing very potent fireworks and creating harm to others and burning some folks, at least one person.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday condemned the attack and said the state police Hate Crimes Task Force would offer assistance. “New York is the vibrant and dynamic home for people from around the world. This tapestry makes New York the extraordinary place that it is. Those of all faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities must be able to walk the streets safely and free from harassment and violence,” Cuomo said in a prepared release.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA), expressed the RAA’s “strongest condemnation of these tragic assaults and offered heartfelt sympathy for the families of victims first and foremost, but also for the Jewish American community. The Jewish American community is reeling from disturbing levels of racist attacks that shockingly have spiked before and during the pandemic and now even higher with tensions in the Middle East.”
Mirocznik continued, “This atmosphere of fear and intimidation affects every American because we are all residents of this country, members of the same society. All Americans must express their outrage at these hateful acts of terror. The RAA prays for the victims’ families. We call for greater solidarity from members of the clergy, community leaders and elected representatives. As Jews, we have a long history of combating anti-Semitism, pogroms, the Holocaust and terror in Israel. We relate to the pain currently being experienced by our community and we therefore call for greater solidarity from every decent, peace-loving American. Hatred cannot become a partisan issue. We must all unite against bigotry and hate.
“The only way to win the war on hate, bigotry and racism is for leaders to publicly highlight the real-life consequences and repercussions caused by hateful words and rhetoric. Americans of all backgrounds must bear the responsibility of taking all measures to tackle this issue of racism, hate and bigotry. We dare not remain silent. We must recognize that hate against one group is hate against all groups. This is the only way to eradicate this poisonous evil.
“The message — in words and in action — must be plain, clear and precise that society will not tolerate anti-Semitic crimes regardless of how one feels about the conflict in the Middle East or any other matter. There is no excuse for attacks on innocent people or vandalism of property. As Americans residing in a culturally diverse society, we must reject all unprovoked violence against anyone peacefully going about their lives. Our nation’s leaders must emphasize the urgent need to coexist in respect and peace. This is the only way we will win the war on anti-Semitism and hate.
“The RAA commends the NYPD for its swift action in catching perpetrators of hate crimes and calls for quick and decisive justice. A revolving door of justice will only convince criminals that there are no consequences to terrorizing the public. The justice system must move swiftly and strongly to ensure the safety of all law-abiding residents of this great city. If justice moves slowly due to problems in the recent Bail Reform law, then that law must be adjusted to allow for the full protection of law-abiding citizens suffering from a wave of hate crimes.”
We pray that He who makes peace in His Heavens make peace on this earth. May the Al-mighty inspire all those who bear hate in their hearts to see the error in their ways and to channel their energy in a positive direction, helping make this world a better place for all people.