The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating a report of an anti-Semitic flyer that was found outside a subway station in Ridgewood, but the leader of that Queens neighborhood’s Chabad Center, the only Jewish institution in the area, said residents are taking the incident in stride, considering it a one-off in a neighborhood where they’ve never felt threatened because of their faith.
“In general, we have very good relations” with non-Jewish neighbors, said Rabbi Nachum Sarytchev, co-director of Chabad of Ridgewood. “It is very rare that people express negative feelings.”
Although police had made no arrests in the case by early this week, Rabbi Sarytchev said he believes it likely that the flyer— which reads “Worthless F****ING Cancer Filled Jews,” discovered on the ground outside Halsey Street L station by a commuter, was left by “a single sick person.”
While the NYPD report only records the existence of one flyer, local news organizations reported anywhere from multiple (Queens Daily Eagle, News1 NY) to “hundreds” (Queens News Service).
Such anti-Semitic literature often turns up at Jewish sites, rather than at a neutral venue like a subway station, the rabbi said. His Chabad Center is a seven-minute walk from the station.
Rabbi Sarytchev, who has served Ridgewood for 20 years, estimated that “a couple thousand” Jews, many with roots in the former Soviet Union, live in that central Queens area. About 200 are affiliated with his Chabad Center, he said.
More people than usual attended worship services on Saturday, three days after the flyer was discovered, the rabbi said.
The appearance of the flyer on Aug. 14 follows other incidents with anti-Semitic connotations in Queens in the last 10 months. In July, a swastika was smeared with what appeared to be excrement at a Ridgewood bus stop, and someone snatched a man’s cell phone while shouting anti-Semitic slurs at a subway station in nearby Bushwick in June, local news outlets report.
Earlier, anti-Semitic graffiti was found at a public school’s playground in Rego Park — a 12-year-old male was taken into custody — and a teenage yeshiva student was attacked near Forest Hills High School. Police called the attack an outgrowth of ill will between rival gangs in the school, rather than a hate crime.
Evan Bernstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New York/New Jersey office, said in an email “anti-Semitic incidents, regardless of geographic location, are always a concern for ADL and the community at large,” but did not call the Ridgewood flyers indicative of an increase in anti-Semitism there. And he declined to connect the flyers to recent anti-Semitic incidents in Brooklyn.
Rabbi Eli Blokh, who directs a Chabad Center in nearby Rego Park, said Jewish members of his congregation, largely from the former Soviet Union, do not feel that anti-Semitism is rising there. “I’m not picking it up from people in my shul.”
“We don’t know who did it [the Ridgewood flyers] – or why,” Rabbi Blokh said, also discounting an increase in anti-Semitism in his or neighboring areas.