By Mica Soffer
Photos: Shmuel Amit
After the recent shocking rise in hate crimes in New York City, community and faith leaders gathered in Brooklyn Tuesday to denounce anti-Semitism and to announce a new initiative aimed at preventing bias attacks.
“There have been 111 anti-Semitic attacks this year in Brooklyn alone,” Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League told the assembled elected officials and community leaders, including activist Devorah Halberstam and Rabbi Eli Cohen of the CHJCC representing Crown Heights.
“Jewish people and institutions are being targeted because they are Jewish, and that is an outrage,” he said.
Last weekend alone, there were at least four attacks on the Jewish community, including incidents of eggs being violently thrown at innocent victims in Boro Park.
“The anti-Jewish comments on the subway stations, on buildings, on cars, on vehicles, we’ve all witnessed this and we cannot remain silent,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“If we ignore what is happening to Jewish residents in the city, it is only a matter of time before those rocks and stones, terms of hate, will spill over,” to other religions, ethnicities and minority groups, the Borough President said.
The attacks are very serious, Rabbi Eli Cohen said, ranging from bruises and scratches to teeth being knocked out and serious injury.
“There’s a sense of intimidation that people are trying to affect by this kind of activity,” he said.
The ADL announced the increased budget and efforts of its education program that is being implemented in school curriculums throughout the city, which aims to educate children about other communities and on the importance of tolerance and inclusion.
The plan is to increase the number of schools in the program from 22 to 40, and will specifically target schools in Crown Heights and Williamsburg, they said.
Arresting the perpetrators of these attacks doesn’t always work, Greenblatt said, since many of the attacks are committed by juveniles who are released to their parents.
“To stop hate we can’t just arrest our way out of the problem,” he said. “To create change we must vaccinate our classrooms, immunize children against antisemitism.”