Town Of Oyster Bay Religious Leaders Aim To Stop Anti-Semitism

The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) was vandalized twice in the span of two weeks in late 2019. (Photo by Joseph Wolkin)

Hate will be defeated. That’s the message being sent around the Town of Oyster Bay by a group of interfaith clergy, who want the public to know bigotry will not be tolerated.

A group of 18 clergy members from the area signed a letter last week that strongly condemns the rise in anti-Semitism. This comes not only after a series of recent attacks in New York City, but after the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) was vandalized twice in the span of two weeks in late 2019.

“Together, we, the members of the Interfaith Clergy Council, representing faith communities in Syosset, Woodbury, Cold Spring Harbor, Jericho and Westbury, condemn the rise in anti-Semitic violence and domestic terrorism in Jersey City, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Monsey and across the country,” the letter from the Interfaith Clergy Council read. “With one voice, we denounce the recent hatred, anti-Semitism and horrific crimes on innocent people.”

The rise in anti-Semitic attacks, whether it’s the Jersey City shooting that killed four people or swastikas being drawn on the HMTC, has sparked a national discussion about the basis of such hate and how to stop it.

“Jewish people and non-Jewish lovers of peace and humanity have a singular responsibility, and a shared privilege, in combating anti-Semitism in all of its form,” Rabbi Chanan Krivisky, the spiritual leader of the MiYaD Chabad in Jericho, said. “Similarly, anti-Semitism does not discriminate. Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Hassidic, Torah-observant, Zionist and secular have no meaning to anti-Semites.”

On Sunday, Nassau County officials came together with the Jewish community to hold a solidarity march in Mineola. County Executive Laura Curran and dozens of local dignitaries joined forces with rabbis, cantors and congregants from across the area to show that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.

“We pray for those with injuries of body, mind and spirit, and for the families and communities who are suffering from the loss of innocent lives,” the Interfaith Clergy Council’s statement read. “As priests, ministers, pastors, Islamic faith leaders and rabbis on Long Island, we are committed to teaching our congregants respect of all people and the importance of performing acts of goodness and kindness to all who dwell in our neighborhoods.”

The letter is signed by Jericho Jewish Center’s Rabbi Matthew Abelson, Makom NY’s Rabbi Deborah Bravo, the Islamic Center of Long Island’s Dr. Isma Chaudhry, Dr. Uzma Syed and Dr. Mufti Mohamed Farhan, Temple Or Elohim, A Community Reform Congregation’s Rabbi Judith Cohen-Rosenberg, New Apostolic Church’s Pastor John W. Fendt, Woodbury Jewish Center’s Rabbi Jason Fruithandler, Woodbury United Methodist’s Pastor Won Tack Lee, Midway Jewish Center’s Rabbi Rafi Rank and Rabbi Joel Levenson, St. Edward The Confessor Roman Catholic Church’s Father Mike Maffeo, St. John’s Episcopal Church’s Rev. Mary Beth Mills-Curran and Rev. Gideon Pollack, North Shore Synagogue’s Rabbi Jaimee Shalhevet, Faith Lutheran Church’s Pastor Rebeca Sheridan and Congregation Simchat HaLev’s Rabbis Jenn and Jay Weinstein.

“As colleagues and friends, we embrace diversity and stand together in these times of crisis—united, undeterred and committed to ending all acts of hatred and violence,” the letter said.

Last Sunday, at a major march against anti-Semitism in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an additional $45 million in funding to protect religious-based institutions. Prior to Cuomo’s announcement, which is allocated in the state’s budget, the UJA-Federation of New York secured $4 million in security funding for 2,000 Jewish institutions, many of which are in Nassau County.

Senator Charles Schumer, in response to the recent attacks, wants to quadruple the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which just saw an increase to $90 million. Meanwhile, Cuomo wants to make a law that defines anti-Semitic attacks as domestic terrorism.


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