By COLlive reporter
Photos: Shimi Kutner/COLlive
Brooklyn residents, community leaders and elected officials gathered at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights Wednesday evening for a Pre-Chanukah party hosted by the new acting Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Gonzalez filled the seat of Ken Thompson who tragically died from cancer in October, and has announced his intention to run for the seat in 2017. He can face up to 5 Democrats vying for the seat in the September 2018 primaries.
At the event in the museum, emceed by Assistant District Attorney Sara Dayan, Gonzalez spoke about his goals while serving as the DA and heard from residents about some of their needs and concerns.
Mrs. Devorah Halberstam, Director of Foundations and Government Services for the Jewish Children’s Museum, welcomed the new District Attorney.
She said she was proud to be hosting to the event because the museum, built in memory of her son Ari Halberstam, a victim of terrorism, aims “to teach children each and every day that understanding and acceptance of one another is the antidote to terrorism and hatred.”
Recalling the dark days after her son was murdered and the trial of the Lebanese-born terrorist Rashid Baz, Halberstam said she knows first-hand about the work of the justice system.
“It was on the fifth night of Chanukah that darkness turned to light, and we heard the courtroom of jurors convict Rashid Baz for murdering Ari,” she said.
“Bringing justice to victims is tedious and hard work. I know how important this work that you do is, each and every day, and I salute you for that on behalf of victims in our community and throughout our city,” Halberstam said.
The District Attorney then presented the Jewish Children’s Museum with an award for community engagement, thanking them for educating and bringing people together.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke thanked the NYPD and the DA’s office for working hand in hand to bring about justice and protect the community. Clarke said she feels very privileged to represent a large Jewish bloc in congress, and is proud to be a representative for all.
In his remarks, District Attorney Gonzalez said he is committed to serving everyone in Brooklyn on the issues of hate crimes, anti-Semitism, domestic violence and abuse, and wants residents to know, “we are going to keep moving forward and keep the people of Brooklyn safe, and continue to treat everyone with fairness.”
Praising the Jewish community for their “sense of unity, sense of togetherness, culture and the importance of family and religion,” the new DA said he takes seriously his obligation to protect the city’s most vulnerable and “prosecute hate crimes and make sure people are treated fairly.”
“Chanukah is a story of fighting religious persecution and winning, and being the Brooklyn District Attorney is about that as well,” Gonzalez said. “It’s about making sure that all of you, and everyone in Brooklyn, can practice religion freely… that you can walk down the street safely without any concern of being accosted or attacked because of who you are and what you believe in.
“We’ve seen the ugly side of anti-Semitism, in the last few months in particular, and we’ve seen people fearful again. We are not going to allow that disease to spread in Brooklyn,” he said.