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Op-Ed

Staying safe as we celebrate the High Holy Days

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The Jewish High Holy Days are an important time for many of our residents, an opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead. One critical word during this most vital part of the year is teshuvah, meaning repentance. Teshuvah tells us that we can change. It tells us that what we’ve been until now need not limit what we can become in the future. It says we can be better tomorrow than we were today, and that, ultimately, nothing is fixed.

As we reflect on a difficult year, let’s also remember the positive strides we’ve made together as a community. Last year, our region experienced a surge in the number of anti-Semitic crimes, with hate-fueled attacks in Monsey, Jersey City and Brooklyn, as well as racist graffiti incidents here on Long Island. Nassau County has vowed to stand up to and guard aggressively against the threat posed by hatred, and our communities have answered the call as well.

Before the pandemic, I formed Unified Long Island, an Island-wide task force of community stakeholders working together to stand up to hatred and promote unity through education. At the beginning of 2020, we marched as one Long Island, 2,500 strong against anti-Semitism, promoting a mentality that’s defined this trying year: We’re in this together. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, residents have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and solidarity in the most challenging of times. In this new year, I’m confident that we will continue to stay united, and we will continue to protect one another.

As county executive, my No. 1 job is always keeping residents safe. That’s why, last week, I announced that there would be increased and intensified protection efforts by the Nassau County Police Department around synagogues and other areas of concern during the High Holy Days. Although there were no credible threats as the holidays began, safety will always be my first priority. I stood with Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Health Commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein and leaders of the Jewish community to highlight our continued efforts to keep Nassau safe — including ensuring that Covid-19 precautions continue to be followed.

I’ve worked to step up the county’s partnership with faith leaders and all houses of worship to provide security assessments, training and other resources. There are over 680 houses of worship in Nassau County, 209 of which are of the Jewish faith. So that’s a lot of work being done by our police.

The NCPD’s Homeland Security Unit works directly with the community to provide additional training resources, including security surveys and situational awareness. They’ll be out and about this week, and you can call (516) 573-7720 throughout the High Holy Days with any non-urgent questions or concerns. And I encourage residents to call 911 immediately if they see anything urgent or suspicious, so that police can quickly investigate.

Nassau County will continue to do everything necessary to ensure that all worshippers are kept safe, no matter what faith they practice. In this new year, we will continue to stand together as one. Let’s continue to wear masks, maintain six feet of distance, wash hands often and, whenever possible, move activities outside. I want to extend warm wishes to all for a healthy, safe and sweet New Year. L’Shana Tovah!

Laura Curran is the Nassau County executive.