By COLlive reporter
Photos by Baruch Ezagui
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Crown Heights on Thursday to show his support following the stabbing of a yeshiva student at Lubavitch Headquarters located in the neighborhood.
The Mayor came along with New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Commissioner of Community Affairs Unit Marco Carrion to to discuss the City’s response to crime and their plans for the security for the Jewish community and to houses of worship.
At the meeting at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council (CHJCC), de Blasio expressed his concern about the incident in which 22-year-old Levi Rosenblatt was stabbed in the neck by Calvin Peters, a 50-year-old African American man.
The stand-off between Peters and the police at the central synagogue in 770 Eastern Parkway resulted in the attacker being shot by an officer. His family says he had a history of mental illness and hasn’t expressed anti Semitic views in the past.
But at least one eyewitness said that Peters called out that “I want to kill the Jews!” Another eyewitness told COLlive.com that he saw Peters at approximately 5:00 pm on Monday afternoon scouting 770.
Rosenblatt is currently recovering from his wounds and underwent a surgical procedure at the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. His mother flew in from Israel to be with him.
Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, governmental liaison for the CHJCC, welcomed the guests by first referring to the auspicious chassidic date of 19 Kislev and by reminding the Mayor and Commissioner of their long friendship towards Crown Heights and the Council dating back over 20 years.
CHJCC’s Executive Director Rabbi Eli Cohen expressed the concern of the community that the full facts of the investigation should be released as soon as possible so that any motives that triggered the attack should come out to the public. He also made some security suggestions to prevent any further incidents.
Commissioner Bratton spoke about the progress of the investigation. So far no indications of any issue local or global that could have triggered the attack have been uncovered, he reported.
The Mayor and the Commissioner spoke about a new counter-terrorism initiative in the Police Department to train selected officers specifically in protecting sensitive locations.
VIDEO: Mayor de Blasio’s remarks to the press
Rabbi Benjy Stock, Administrator of Associated Beth Rivkah Schools asked the Mayor to provide security for private schools. The Mayor responded that he would take the suggestion very seriously and would examine possible solutions to the issue.
CHJCC Chairman Zaki Tamir raised the question of how best to deter attacks and how to balance keeping places of worship like 770 open to all while at the same time preserving security. The Mayor responded that this was an issue that they were working on and that would be developed over time.
Rabbi Hershel Lustig, Principal of Oholei Torah boys school, asked for the City’s assistance in providing mental health and counseling support for Yeshivah students.
Rabbi Michael Miller of Jewish Community Relations Council, spoke about the work that his organization has been doing together with Crown Heights Jewish Community Council and Project Care to promote positive relations in the community.
The Mayor also praised the work of CHJCC in this regard – pointing out that Crown Heights has been very prominent in this work.
Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudas Israel of America thanked the Mayor for coming to the community and for his caring for all New Yorkers.
Rabbi Cohen closed the meeting by speaking of the importance of projecting moral values into our education system, and of the Rebbe’s call for a Moment of Silence where each child can think about the things that are important to him or her at the beginning of every school day.
Present at the meeting were Rabbi Shea Hecht, Rabbi Zalman Wilhelm, Rabbi Eliyohu Davis, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Gabbai of 770 Zalman Lipsker, Mrs. Devorah Halberstam.
Also present were 71 Precinct Council Chairman Carl Kohn, 77 Precinct Council Chairman James Caldwell, Batia Brandel, and the Mayor’s aides Avi Fink and Pinny Ringel.
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