A woman shovels snow from a walkway at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, U.S., April 2, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)
A Friday night attack on a Chabad synagogue in Brooklyn, New York’s Bushwick neighborhood has left the local Jewish community shocked and saddened.
The synagogue’s rabbi, his wife, children and other members of the community were “seated around the table, enjoying each other’s company and the peace and joy of the Shabbat, when our front window was shattered and destroyed.”
In an emotional Facebook post, Rabbi Menachem Heller said the glass shattered “feet from where my children were playing.”
“Thank God no one was injured, but we easily could have been,” he wrote.
Heller and his community have so far remained resilient in the face of the attack.
“We are facing this unfortunate experience not with discouragement, but with solid determination – to continue celebrating our faith, sharing our rich heritage, and offering our culture in an inclusive and warm environment,” Heller said. “At the same time, we acknowledge the disturbing and increasingly frequent incidents of hate and prejudice in our New York community, and its destructive and divisive effects, especially on young people.”
Heller also encouraged both the Jewish and non-Jewish community to stand up against such attacks, “whenever it occurs, whatever form it takes, and toward whomever it is directed.”
“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” he added.
Heller said that despite “the intentions of this attack to divide and intimidate, our doors will remain as open as ever, welcoming visitors to join our growing Bushwick family."
“We are determined, God willing, to share many years of celebrations and achievements together with the wider Bushwick community.”
Heller also thanked “the police department for their quick response and their ongoing investigation” into the matter.
Antisemitic incidents in New York has seen a sharp rise in the past year. There have been numerous incidents in which visibly observant Jews have been physically and verbally attacked by gangs.
In the last week of January alone, at least four attacks were committed against several Orthodox Jews who were beaten in unprovoked assaults.
New York Police Department figures show that there were 180 antisemitic incidents in the city in 2018, a 22% increase from 2017, and an increase of nearly 39% from 2016.
Moreover, the NYPD has reported a 75% increase in swastika graffiti between 2016 and 2018, with an uptick observed after the Pittsburgh shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in October. Of that figure, 150 featured swastikas painted on personal and public property, among other incidents.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared war “against antisemitism” during a speech in a Brooklyn synagogue on Thursday. “The recent events are a reminder to all of us – and this is a very sad reality – but antisemitism exists in this world, in this city, in this country, and we must stop it,” De Blasio told the audience at the Kingsway Jewish Center.
“Antisemitism is alive and well in this country and it must be stopped. We will not allow hatred to grow in New York City. We will not allow acts of violence. An attack on the Jewish community anywhere is an attack on the Jewish community here, and we stand with them shoulder to shoulder.”
De Blasio added that the city would “continue to have increased NYPD presence at synagogues and community organizations in the coming days.”Alon Einhorn contributed to this report.
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