NEW YORK – A letter sent to an Upper West Side synagogue last week, threatening to blow it up on New Year’s Eve, arrived the same day a report was released by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services showing that hate crimes across New York jumped 14 percent in 2009.
The letter was found at Congregation Ohab Zedek on 95th Street off Columbus Avenue at 5 pm last Thursday, Rabbi Allen Schwartz told the New York Post.
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Security was heightened at some prominent New York synagogues on New Year’s Eve for Friday night services.
Ron Meier, director of the Anti- Defamation League’s New York office, said this was the fifth such threat against a Manhattan synagogue since the summer.
“I do know that the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force Unit has the case, and is taking it extremely seriously, and while it is not a widespread occurrence, it’s not a first-time event either,” Meier said.
The earlier threats were similar to the one against Ohab Zedek, he said, and reached their targets – Manhattan synagogues of many sizes and denominations – by letter. Meier said they all seemed to have originated in the greater New York area.
“Fortunately, till now, none of what was threatened has occurred, thank
God,” he said. “But the impact of being the recipient of such a threat
as an institution is its power to create an atmosphere of fear and
intimidation for a whole congregation, potentially.
“We work very hard to make sure such threats don’t become realities, but even the threat itself is its own reality,” he added.
According to the New York State report, hate crimes rose in New York
City by 6% in 2009, with Manhattan having the second-highest number of
incidents at 70.