The Jewish Week is always here for you.
We need your support now.
Your contribution will help us bring you vital news
and frequent updates about the impact of COVID-19.
Groups want Riverdale suspect behind bars • State easing indoor restrictions • NYPD tallies anti-Jewish hate crimes
Daily Update

Groups want Riverdale suspect behind bars • State easing indoor restrictions • NYPD tallies anti-Jewish hate crimes

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announce significant easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on businesses, venues and houses of worship, May 3, 2021. (Flickr)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announce significant easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on businesses, venues and houses of worship, May 3, 2021. (Flickr)


Jewish groups are asking why a suspect in the attacks on Riverdale synagogues was granted supervised release.

Jordan Burnette, 29, faces 42 charges for nine separate vandalism incidents, including burglary as a hate crime and criminal trespassing as a hate crime. A judge recommended he be held on $20,000 cash bail, but Bronx Supreme Court Justice Tara Collins said the law doesn’t allow cash bail for hate crimes and let him go free until trial.

Agudath Israel of America re-upped its call for an exception to the bail reform laws that would allow judges to set bail for hate crimes. So did the Rabbinical Alliance of America, a coalition of Orthodox rabbis.

The L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center weighed in, saying, “New York must not allow hate mongers to attack Houses of Worship with impunity.”

Burnette’s attorney, Morgan Everhart, defended his release Monday, saying that he hasn’t been convicted of any crimes.

Background: When the state legislature barred judges from setting bail for minor offenses in 2020, some Jewish lawmakers and community leaders called for an exception for hate crimes. Left-wing Jewish groups said cash bail “criminalizes poverty.”

Jews in New York were targeted in 54 hate crimes between Jan. 1 and May 2, down slightly from 58 such crimes in the same period in 2020.

Hate crimes against Jews accounted for the second-largest number of such crimes this year, after those targeting Asians, according to data from the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force announced Monday.

Asians were targeted in 80 NYC hate crimes from Jan. 1 through April 4, up from 16 in the same period in 2020.

New York will lift most of its pandemic-era capacity restrictions later this month, including on houses of worship. 

Effective May 19, businesses and houses of worship will only be limited by the space available for patrons to maintain the required social distance of six feet.

The capacity increases were announced Monday by Gov. Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut.

Beth El Synagogue in New Rochelle — site of the first COVID hotspot in the Northeast in the spring of 2020 — created support groups for isolated seniors, for parents of special-needs children and for hospital front-line workers.

The congregation led a wave of synagogues that, reeling under the shadow of illness and death, started support groups and memorial services, hired social workers and pursued other initiatives to help congregants cope with the losses, JTA reports.

Quotable: “We sent out 25 to 30 loss notices that were either from COVID or COVID-impacted” in the first three months of the pandemic, recalled David Schuck, rabbi of the Conservative congregation.

A candidate for Brooklyn Borough president wants a candidates’ forum scheduled for Shavuot rescheduled.

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) said observant Jews will not be able to tune in to the May 17 forum because of the Jewish holiday, and asked its sponsor, Shneps Media, to set a new date.

A new study by Jewish Women International finds that Jewish communities are meeting the critical short-term needs of domestic violence victims, but that survivors still feel stigmatized and fear losing their communities’ support.

“Survivors struggle to envision life after a marriage, and how to remain in the community while leaving an unsafe relationship,” writes Shoshannah D. Frydman, executive director of Shalom Task Force, in a Jewish Week Essay.


A generation of scholars and communal planners promoted “continuity,” the idea that Jews should be encouraged to have Jewish children to ensure a vital Jewish future. But that agenda is under attack, writes Andrew Silow-Carroll, by a generation of young activists who find the emphasis on fertility and “natalism” misogynist, exclusionary, parochial, heteronormative and even a bit racist.

The pandemic has created new habits of personal prayer and languid Saturday mornings. “What would get me back to shul?” asks Gary Rosenblatt. “It’s the chance to ignite a spark of faith and commitment, and time to take the next step back on the long path toward normalcy.”

Mental Health Awareness Month

The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative is sharing events and resources to mark National Mental Health Awareness Month. Go here to find pop-up programs, workshops, giving circles, “screenside chats” and wellness inspiration meant to increase resiliency and help address rising levels of loneliness, stress, and anxiety, focusing on young people.

The Orthodox Union and its partners are offering mental health resources, including a one-page resource for parents to talk with their children about mental health, resources from Shalom Task Force about domestic abuse, and a “Go Dark During Dinner” campaign, where families put away all technology during dinner. The OU is also asking synagogues, families and individuals to dedicate the Shabbat of May 7-8 toward learning and discussing the issues of mental and emotional health. For more information or to access mental health resources, go here.

People and Places 

Trybal Gatherings is expanding its multi-day Jewish overnight and day camp immersive experiences for young adults. In 2021, Trybal will offer overnight camp at Trybal Berkshires (Aug. 19-22/location TBA) and Trybal SoCal (Sept. 23-26/Ramah California) and day camp at Chicago Day Camp (July 31/Apachi Day Camp) and Atlanta Day Camp (Sept. 11/Ramah Darom).

Fuel For Truth’s Boot Camp class begins tonight, offering young professionals knowledge and tools to have civil and productive conversations about Israel, Zionism, and the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sessions are online and run Tuesday evenings from May 4 to June 22, 7:30-9:30 pm. Visit here to learn more and register.

Streaming Today

The #ItStartedWithWords digital campaign will launch the 75th anniversary of liberation from the Holocaust with a campaign video today at noon. The campaign, created by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, posts weekly videos from Holocaust survivors. Over the course of five days, beginning today, “Liberation75” will bring together people committed to fighting anti-Semitism and racism.

The Anti-Defamation League, JCRC-NY and CSI will discuss the key findings of ADL’s 2020 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents as they relate to the New York metropolitan area, provide in-depth analysis of efforts to protect and secure our local community institutions, and highlight their joint initiatives for preventing and addressing these incidents. Register here. 12:30 pm.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research presents “Leftists on Left-Wing Antisemitism,” addressing questions related to Israel and Zionism, the role of conspiracy theories and critiques of financial capital — as well as how to deal with openly antisemitic actors on the Left. Moderated by Spencer Sunshine, with panelists Sina Arnold, Shane Burley, Keith Kahn-Harris and Joshua Leifer. Reservations here. 1:00 pm.

Tomorrow, May 5 at 1:00 pm, join UJA-Federation and The Jewish Week as we present award-winning authors Roya Hakakian and Ruby Namdar in conversation about their experience immigrating to America. Moderated by Sandee Brawarsky. Register here.

read more: