Residents, political and religious leaders came out to denounce the recent wave of hate attacks against both the Jewish and Muslim communities across the nation.
In the wake of nearly 100 bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers around the country since January 1, 2017, as well as the toppling of headstones at several Jewish cemetery’s, officials held the meeting on March 3, 2017, at the Riverdale YM-YWHA on Arlington Avenue.
Congressman Eliot Engel, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen were joined by members of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and the Bronx Jewish Community Council, who all denounced the noticeable rise of hate and anti-Semitic attacks.
Senator Klein who organized the event, told the crowd, “To see acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism on the rise is chilling and this behavior must be condemned.”
Rabbi Steven Exler of the Institute of Riverdale stated that the large turnout, “Sends a clear message to anyone who would threaten harm against the Jewish community, against the Muslim community, against the Christian community, against any of our institutions, that we have each others backs. And that’s an incredibly powerful message.”
Pointing to members in President Trump’s inner-circle, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz remarked, “Looking back, maybe we should have seen some of the signs… look at the hatred that has been unleashed in the past year and-a-half. Look at the people who’ve been embolden, people who have virtually been given permission to act upon the feelings that they’ve had inside them all this time.”
Dinowitz added, “When you think about what’s happened in the election that took place, the attacks on Muslims, the attacks on Latinos, the attacks on so many different groups, that’s never happened before in this country, at least not as long ass I’ve been around. It just hasn’t happened.”
Brad Silver, the Director of the Bronx Jewish Community Council told the crowd, “The truth is if you go back far enough, all of us have an immigrant heritage and were all once, the other” group, before challenging the audience to spend time with others outside their own race and ethnicity.
Congressman Engel said, “Across the United States Jewish Community Centers have received five mass wave bomb threats in recent weeks, including those in my district. We must take an uncompromising stand against this horrific hatred.”
Councilman Cohen added, “I condemn these hateful acts and ask that law enforcement provide additional security at JCC’s and synagogues. America’s strength is our diversity and all Americans must unite together against such hatred.”
Debra Schiavo, a longtime Riverdale resident said after the meeting, “I’m more concerned now than I was before, our Shul has people standing out in front watching.”
Schiavo came to the meeting armed with two posters denouncing members of President Trump’s inner circle, she added, “We can’t let these people get away with this. You have to call your Senator, we have to push this resident leader out of office or get rid of these hate-filled people.”