Marching in weather that brought spring to mind more than winter, more than 2,000 ranging from elected officials to religious leaders to people from across Long Island, walked a half-mile on County Seat Drive to the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative building on Franklin Avenue in Mineola to show support for the Jewish community and their opposition to hate.
The Jan. 12 march was the second consecutive such event in the metropolitan area, following an onslaught of anti-Semitic attacks in December. On. Jan. 4, 25,000 people marched through Manhattan and Brooklyn in an effort to show solidarity after the assaults. Among them, a Queens man verbally abused and physically threatened three people, including a rabbi and an 11-year-old, in the North Lawrence Costco on Dec. 8; three civilians and a police detective were killed, along with two armed suspects, in a shootout in a Jersey City kosher supermarket on Dec. 10; and five people were stabbed in upstate Monsey on Dec. 28, at a Hanukkah party at a rabbi’s house.
Marchers were behind a huge banner that read “Long Island Is Against Anti-Semitism” and individually they held signs that read “No Hate, No Fear,” “Don’t Hate Just Love,” “Stop the Hate,” and ones that identified the groups the marchers represented. One small group of Jewish men wore T-Shirts that read, “I’m Proud To Be Jewish.”
Representatives from the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC in the Five Towns marched as well. Associate Executive Director Stacey Feldman said that the march showed that hate will not be tolerated. “It’s important to come together as a community to stand strong against all forms of discrimination,” she said. “By coming together, we show a strong voice against anyone who wishes to hurt anyone on the basis of religion.”
Several people from Temple Israel of Lawrence also marched. Synagogue leader Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum said that people have the power to put a halt to hatred. “You have made a pledge, that from this podium it will stop,” he said. “We’ll go forward and make a difference. We’ll put an end to the sanity. You have the power to make a difference,” noting a slogan from the 1960s — Power to the people.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach who represents the Five Towns, noted that a bill he is sponsoring would require hate symbols such as the swastika, to be part of the curriculum for all New York public school students in grades six to 12.
“I want you to answer me loudly just more time so they hear ( people who hate): Are we a stronger Long Island when we are together? Are we going to look out for each other no matter our backgrounds like brothers and sisters? Am Yisrael Chai. The Jewish people will live. God bless you,” he said.
“Recalling that an earthquake occurred 10 years ago to the day of the march, State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, another Democrat who represents a portion of the Five Towns, highlighted that Israel was the first country to come to her native island nation’s aid.
“They came down with all the tools and resources and helped so many of our friends and family,” she said. “So, I want to personally say thank you. Express a debt a gratitude, and say my people will always stand by you.”
Avi Posnick, the northeast regional director for Stand With Us, an international education organization that educates and empowers students to fight anti-Semitism, noted the importance of influencing young people with education. Posnick is also a graduate from Rambam High School in Lawrence.
“We are all very concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in New York and our streets,” he said. “We’ve also seen the rise of anti-Semitism in our schools. No one is born hating, no one is born being an anti-Semite. However, today’s students are the leaders of tomorrow. We must educate them today before their hearts and minds are poisoned tomorrow.”
Woodmere resident Ann DeMichael, who said her two sons-in-law are Jewish, said the constant attacks are “heartbreaking.” “I support all Americans, I’m an Italian-American,” she said, “we have to stand together as we are all one.”