In wake of recent anti-Semitic incidents that have taken place across the United States in the past two years, the Town of Hempstead announced a town-wide safety initiative as the Jewish High Holidays approach.
Town Supervisor Don Clavin said at Rock Hall Museum in Lawrence that the town, in conjunction with its Department of Public Safety will increase security patrols in areas with synagogues.
“There’s a real necessity to do this after what’s transpired in the last few months and few years with incidents of anti-Semitism across America,” Clavin said. “We want to make sure our town residents are safe in their homes, places of worship and just feel an all around community spirit of being safe.
He added that the Anti-Defamation League reported that there were more than 2,100 hate crimes against Jewish people in the United States in 2019, the highest number the organization has reported in roughly 40 years. There were 13 anti-Semitic incidents reported in New York in December 2019.
“Times may be different while living in a pandemic, but no matter what the situation is, we can never let our guard down,” he said. “Worshippers are still attending services and visiting family and friends. As America’s largest township, we want to utilize our resources to help provide a semblance of safety and security for residents as they observe the High Holy Days.”
Clavin noted that the town does not want to disclose their full detailed plan of where increased patrolling will be for security reasons. “This is about allowing people to worship in our township without fear,” he said. “We have an obligation as public leaders to do this.”
Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman, who is Jewish, spoke about the importance of preserving freedom of religion. “Unfortunately, anti-Semitism has reared it’s ugly head again in our country and we will not stand for that in our town,” he said. “We are guaranteed under the constitution freedom of religion as this country was formed on freedom of religion. We are going to give our resources to protect the Jewish community during the High Holidays.”
Several Five Towns rabbis attended the news conference. Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett applauded the efforts of the town leaders.
“In watching all types of local governments and their attitude toward Jewish communities, I have to laud the Town of Hempstead and their leadership on this matter,” Kamenetzky said. “Supervisor Clavin and Councilman Blakeman are there to listen and respond on this issue. There's always been a level of dialogue with them that transcends just talking, it’s talking that leads to actions.”
The Public Safety Department will be in contact with the Nassau County Police Department and will report to them any suspicious activity. “It’s important to note to our residents that if you see something suspicious, say something,” Blakeman added. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”