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In Hewlett, elected and religious leaders decry bias attacks

Pledge support, increased security and legislative help


With Yeshiva of South Shore as a backdrop, several elected and religious leaders gathered outside the Hewlett Jewish school to condemn the multiple anti-Semitic and bias attacks that have occurred in the metropolitan area.

There have been 13 anti-Semitic incidents in New York since Dec. 8. On that Sunday, a Queens man verbally abused and physically threatened three Jewish people in the North Lawrence Costco, including an 11-year-old. Two days later, at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City left three victims dead. On Dec. 28, a machete-wielding man stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party at a rabbi’s house in upstate Monsey.

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said that local officials will join forces to lobby state and federal representatives for the needed security and protection to help ensure residents of all faiths are safe to practice their religion.

“There is zero tolerance for anti-Semitism,” Clavin said, noting the spike in anti-Semitic incidents. “We stand unified, all faiths, all elected officials to say — we will not tolerate this. Not in our township, not in our country, not in our society and we are going to raise our voices and stand together.” He added that the town’s public safety unit will increase patrols where needed.

Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who represents 4th Councilmatic District where YOSS is located, said that the Dec. 31 news conference, “isn’t an event we would like to host.” This is not a Catholic issue, this isn’t a white issue, this isn’t a black issue or a Jewish issue or a Baptist issue or I’m from Garden City issue or I’m from the South Shore issue, this is an American issue,” he said, calling the incidents “an attack on the very fabric of our nation,” and wanting the roughly 800,000 town residents to understand all the leaders are united.  

“All though the holidays are ending, over the next few weeks we should do everything we can to make sure that our Sunday services are packed, that our synagogues are filled to the brim that our churches throughout the TOH have more attendees than they ever had,” D’Esposito said.

Calling the attacks “quite disturbing,” State Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) pledged to explore legislative remedies to help keep people safe." "Our differences are what make up the very tapestry of our society and that is something that should be celebrated, not attacked,” she said. “Our bond is being tested by those choosing a path of hatred instead of peace.”

Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, a past president and executive board member of the statewide Association of Towns, said that its 932 members, which is nearly all the towns in New York, are committed to, “Making sure everyone is safe and has the right to practice their religion,” she said.

Yeshiva of South Shore Director of Development Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, noted that the school has a Security Committee and parents can voice their concerns on school safety.

“We pray to God to protect us from all those who try to hurt us and we are confident in our elected officials that they have our backs and they’ll do whatever it takes to secure our religious institutions and all the residents of the township,” he said.