By COLlive reporter
New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo hosted a short tour of Crown Heights in collaboration with Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Chaim Deutsch, Chair of the Jewish Caucus.
The group met up on Tuesday, January 29, for a quick glimpse into Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters – 770 Eastern Parkway, where they observed the prayers and study in the main synagogue.
They then crossed the street to the Jewish Children’s Museum, enjoying a brief overview and tour through the exhibits led by Mrs. Devorah Halberstam, the Museum’s Director of External Affairs.
The group continued to have lunch and a discussion at the home of Chanina Sperlin, Executive Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council (CHJCC).
“The beauty of this gathering is that it reflects all of our hard work as elected officials, community leaders and not for profits who have worked tirelessly providing collaborative vital services for all community members,” Cumbo commented.
Participants included Council member Mathieu Eugene, Richard Green from Crown Heights Youth Collective, Eli Cohen of the CHJCC, Amy Ellenbogen of Neighbors in Action, Reverend Cecil Henry from the 77th Precinct Clergy Council, Pat Baker – new Chair of Community Board 9, Val Henry and Reverend Clarence Norman of the Crown Heights Local Development Corp, Democratic District Leaders Geoffrey Davis, and Shirley Patterson and Community Council Presidents, Karl Cohen from the 71st Precinct and James Cauldwell from the 77th Precinct.
In the discussion, both elected officials and community activists discussed the recent rise in crime and hate crimes which have been widespread prominently in Crown Heights.
The council, they reported, recently introduced a bill to create an office for the prevention of hate crimes which will coordinate responses and outreach amongst city agencies, specifically NYPD and the city’s Commission on Human Rights.
They said the office will work with nonprofit institutions and neighborhood leaders and make recommendations on existing safety plans and improvements. The office would also report on the identification of vulnerable areas and resources for victims.
The prevalence of hate crimes rose nationally 17% between 2016 and 2017, the third year in a row there has been such an increase.
“While the NYPD has a dedicated Hate Crimes Task Force, there is no formal relationship between their investigations and other city agencies, community groups, and advocacy organizations,” Cumbo said.
“Hate crimes are a reminder that our work battling anti-Semitism is never done and our thankfully our elected officials are taking this seriously and doing what they do best, creating legislation to address this issue head-on,” she added.
They also noted that the Council voted unanimously to recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day in New York City, and to observe a citywide week of Holocaust Education.
“We know there’s a tremendous amount of work to do,” Speaker Johnson said. “That’s why it’s not just an office, but focusing on education and going out into schools to combat hate.”
Cumbo said it will “provide for the opportunity to educate NYC public school children of all denominations about the dangers of hate and prejudice and how not keeping hate crimes in check can lead to devastating consequences as well all know too well.”
The discussion also referred to the connection among local communities, housing, addressing poverty in both black and Jewish communities and support for Holocaust survivors.
Sperlin thanked all participants for their ongoing work and efforts. He called Johnson a true friend, to which Johnson responded, “We’re mishpacha.”
UPDATE: Speaker Corey Johnson told COLlive.com on Thursday concerning the recent anti-Semitic attacks in Crown Heights: “I was in Crown Heights Tuesday discussing the rise of crimes against the Jewish community. To see this happen the next day is heartbreaking. What I said to the Jewish Community gathered at 770 Eastern Parkway still stands – Hate does not belong in New York City.”