"Jew-in-the-City" pop-up sparks dialogue to inform people on antisemitism

"When people see each other as labels and not fellow human beings, walls go up, suspicion goes up, and hate goes up. When there is dialogue, there is a chance for common humanity to be shared."

A tugboat passes the midtown Manhattan skyline on the Hudson River in the early morning in New York City (photo credit: REUTERS)
A tugboat passes the midtown Manhattan skyline on the Hudson River in the early morning in New York City
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jew in the City, an organization dedicated to reversing negative stereotypes about Orthodox Jews since 2007, pitched a tent on a busy Manhattan corner on Thursday morning. 

The “Meet a Jew in the City. Make a Friend” pop-up allowed pedestrians to meet and interact with Orthodox Jews, some for the first time in their lives. Volunteers at the pop-up tent served coffee and kosher pastries while engaging in conversations with passersby in which they explained Jewish customs and traditions. 

The tent also housed banners with “Foundational Principles of Judaism,” including “All people are created in the image of God and share a common ancestry,” and “The world is built on kindness,” to educate observers on Jewish values. 

This pop-up, on the corner of 42nd street and Third Avenue, comes months after another successful pop-up held in Harlem. This specific location was chosen due to its proximity to the spot where an antisemitic attack took place on December 23, 2019. 

In this attack, Miami resident Steven Jorge, 28, violently attacked and yelled racial slurs at a 65 year-old man wearing a yarmulke. Jorge was later arrested and charged for assaulting as a hate crime. 

Founder and executive director of Jew in the City, Allison Josephs explains the need for this pop-up tent and its specific location. 

“When this uptick in violence went from assault to actual murder, we felt a responsibility to do something proactive to create interpersonal relationships and understanding between Jews and other minorities. While it’s wonderful for elected officials and others to attend marches and offer platitudes, they fail to address a key factor of antisemitism, which is not enough exposure between groups of people,” she explains.

“Our Harlem event was so successful that communities around the world are reaching out to see if we can come to their hometowns in order to help open the dialogue between everyday folks there. When people see each other as labels and not fellow human beings, walls go up, suspicion goes up, and hate goes up. When there is dialogue, there is a chance for common humanity to be shared and to learn about one another. We came to Midtown today to start a dialogue,” she added.