By Rabbi Joel Mosbacher
We, the Jewish people, have endured so much in our history. This Sunday and next Wednesday, we will joyfully observe a holiday in which a brave and powerful Jewish woman foiled an attempted genocide against our people. I hope you’ll join us for our Purim celebrations, and invite your friends!
It’s wonderful that the Jewish calendar offers us these opportunities to celebrate that we have not only endured but flourished in spite of the existential challenges we have faced.
Last week, in our own neighborhood, hatred – anti-Semitism – reared its ugly head once again. On March 6, the fixtures and walls of Asphalt Green were graffitied with swastikas drawn with black marker. The NYPD is investigating this incident as a hate crime.
There has been an increase in hate crimes in our city in recent years, which corresponds to a rise in hate crimes nationwide. According to the NYPD, swastika incidents have skyrocketed 76% in the last two years.
Nationally, the FBI reports that most significant categories of hate crimes, whether motivated by race or ancestry, religion or sexual orientation, have been reported at higher rates since 2016. Reported anti-Jewish crimes have increased 37% in that same time. Reported anti-Hispanic and Latino crimes have also risen by more than 24%, and anti-Native American crimes have risen by 63%, although the number of incidents in these categories was still overall far lower than anti-African American and anti-Jewish incidents.
As Jews, we have seen this all too often in our history. What we have rarely seen throughout our history, though, is a corresponding outcry from elected public officials and other leaders of faith. Fortunately for us in this moment, at least, we hear their outcry. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle and faith leaders of all sorts are speaking out against this incident in particular, and the rise in hate crimes and hate speech in general.
I invite you to join me outside Asphalt Green at 2:00pm this Sunday, March 17 for a rally against this anti-Semitism in particular and incidents of hate more generally. Representative Carolyn Maloney’s office is organizing the event, and I will be speaking alongside other faith leaders.
There is much work to do to bring a spirit of respect and mutual understanding to this nation and this world. Our community organizing work, which I invite you to join, is bringing us into deeper, real relationships with people across lines of difference across this city. The rally on Sunday provides us an opportunity to give voice to our commitment not to tolerate hate and gives others with whom we share this neighborhood the chance to express their intolerance for intolerance.
Please join me this Sunday to first celebrate our tradition in the morning at a goofy, silly, and joyous Purim spiel and carnival. Then stand with me in the afternoon as we enact our Jewish values and civic responsibilities at a community rally to show our collective resolve not to tolerate hate in any form in our city.