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De Blasio vows to fight antisemitic attacks • NYPD probes assaults on Brooklyn Jews • Hundreds attend pro-Israel rally
Daily Update

De Blasio vows to fight antisemitic attacks • NYPD probes assaults on Brooklyn Jews • Hundreds attend pro-Israel rally

Two men wear Israeli flags at a pro-Israel rally in lower Manhattan on May 23, 2021. (Ben Sales)
Two men wear Israeli flags at a pro-Israel rally in lower Manhattan on May 23, 2021. (Ben Sales)


Hundreds of people rallied for Israel in New York City days after a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and following a string of antisemitic assaults and harassment here and around the United States.

The demonstration on Sunday in lower Manhattan, organized by the Israeli-American Council and other pro-Israel organizations, principally featured traditional messages of support for Israel.

Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed on Sunday that the city will not “turn a blind eye to this hatred,” referring to a spate of attacks on Jewish New Yorkers in the wake of Israel’s clash with Hamas last week.

The mayor and NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison met with Jewish leaders at the 66th Precinct in Borough Park, amNY reports.

The city is deploying more NYPD officers to Jewish neighborhoods in the wake of Saturday’s incidents, de Blasio said.

On Saturday, six men, including one shouting “free Palestine,” assaulted and punched two Jewish teenagers in Brooklyn on 18th Avenue and Ocean Parkway, reported VINnews.

The same night, members of the same group of attackers exited a blue Toyota Camry and harassed four victims, who fled into a Borough Park synagogue.

On Friday, Luca Lewis, a 20-year-old professional soccer player who plays for the New York Red Bulls, said he was threatened in New York by men holding knives who asked if he was Jewish (he isn’t), and who told him they would kill him if his answer were yes.

And in a separate incident, a man was charged with arson after he set fire to garbage bags on Wednesday piled next to a synagogue and yeshiva on 36th Street in Brooklyn. The man is also accused of assaulting a Hasidic man on the same block.

Here’s what we know about the spate of anti-Israel and antisemitic violence in New York City last Thursday, including the beating of a 29-year-old Jewish man, Joseph Borgen.

Borgen’s attacker, Waseem Awawdeh, 23, proclaimed from his jail cell that he would “do it again,” prosecutors said on Saturday.

Read how New Yorkers are reacting to the threats, including a renewed anxiety around identifying themselves publicly as Jews.

Quotable: “I don’t think we should stop being openly Jewish. If we get to that point in the United States where we can’t wear our yarmulkes comfortably and openly, we’re at a whole different level, and I hope that’s a conversation we don’t have to have.” — Evan Bernstein, CEO and national director, Community Security Service

All eight Democratic mayoral candidates addressed the wave of antisemitic violence. Jewish Insider rounds up the tweets by Andrew YangEric AdamsKathryn GarciaScott StringerShaun DonovanDianne MoralesMaya Wiley and Ray McGuire.

An array of national Jewish groups called on Joe Biden Friday to speak out against the recent spike in antisemitic attacks.

Rabbis from the area traveled to Israel Sunday on a solidarity mission arranged by UJA-Federation. Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue said participants will visit with Iraelis traumatized by the recent fighting; thank Israeli leaders and soldiers “upon whom the safety of Israel depends,” and visit projects of Arab-Jewish cooperation and community building.

Essential reading: In his sermon Saturday, Cosgrove noted how erosion of blanket support for Israel has created a dilemma for liberal Zionists, and urged that his synagogue remain one “that is proudly and unapologetically Zionist and insists that our Zionism acknowledges and works on behalf of the right of Palestinians for self-determination.”

LIVING THE DREAM: Students, alumni and supporters of IVDU Schools for children with disabilities took part in a triathlon at the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, May 23, 2021. The race included a 5k course covering multiple floors of the mall, stationary bikes, and a timed swim in the DreamWorks waterpark. The Marilyn and Sheldon David IVDU Boys and Girls Upper Schools are a program of Yachad, the Orthodox Union’s international organization dedicated to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities into Jewish communal life. (Courtesy)


Roman Kent, a Lodz Ghetto survivor who would negotiate with the postwar German government for billions of dollars in compensation for Jewish Holocaust survivors, died Friday at his home in New York City. He was 92.

Kent, who immigrated to the United States in 1946, was a longtime board member of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, where he served variously as treasurer, co-chair of its negotiating committee and special adviser to its president.

Lee Steinberg, a philanthropist and poet who built a thriving women’s’ apparel business in her native Ohio, passed away on May 17 at home in Glen Oaks, New York. She was 106. In 2016, Steinberg was recognized by American Friends of Meir Panim with its Spirit of Humanity Award. Her contributions included support for Meir Panim’s nutrition center for the hungry in Kiryat Gat, Israel.

People and Places

Just Leading, a new podcast hosted by the heads of Leading Edge, Jews of Color Initiative and the SRE Network, discusses how leaders can model and increase equity and inclusion in their workplaces and organizations. Supported by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the “Just Leading” podcast has eight episodes hosted by Gali Cooks, Ilana Kaufman, or Elana Wien and featuring a diverse array of leaders from within and beyond the Jewish world.

Streaming Today

American Jewish Committee presents “High Stakes: What’s Next for U.S. Policy on Iran?” The live recording of AJC’s podcast, “People of the Pod,” features Jason Isaacson, AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer; Lt. Col (res.) Avital Leibovich, Director, AJC Jerusalem; and Daniel Schwammenthal, director, AJC Transatlantic Institute. Register here. 12:00 pm.

Commonpoint Queens presents Debbie Cenziper, author of “Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America,” about the hunt for Nazi killers living openly in neighborhoods across the U.S. Cost is $8 member / $10 non-member. Visit here to register. 12:00 pm.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish historian Zosa Szajkowski gathered up tens of thousands of documents from Nazi buildings in Berlin, and later, public archives and private synagogues in France, and moved them all, illicitly, to New York. Join Dr. Lisa Leff and Dr. Jonathan Brent, executive director and CEO of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, for a discussion about Szajkowski’s story, the documents he stole, and what it all means for those interested in preserving the past today. Register here. 2:00 pm.

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