Responding to a recent wave of bias attacks, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has organized three days of programming at religious institutions and other venues to promote tolerance.
“Every day in different communities there is evidence that people are still being singled out because of their faith and who they are,” Quinn told The Jewish Week Thursday. “We want to keep our efforts fresh and strong and send the message that that’s not New York, that’s not acceptable. There are no better ambassadors against hate than our religious leaders.”
The “Love Love Interfaith Weekend” kicks off Friday morning with a breakfast at the offices of the Service Employees International Union in Midtown followed by events at schools, churches and mosques, and synagogues, including the Reform Temple of Forest Hills in Queens and Congregations Beth Elohim and Mt. Sinai, both in downtown Brooklyn on Saturday morning. A complete list of events is on the Council’s Web site.
Quinn organized a similar one-day program in 2008. She said this year’s events were a response to recent attacks on Hispanic immigrants on Staten Island and anti-gay assaults in the Bronx.
“We wish it wasn’t so aptly timed, coming after a series of anti-Semitic attacks [in Williamsburg] where we’re hearing from the perpetrators more and more disturbing things that they’ve done,” Quinn said.
Two teenagers were arrested earlier this week and accused of hate crimes for an attempted assault and an earlier brutal attack that left a yeshiva teacher with a broken jaw. Police said the youths, 14 and 15, confessed to those attacks and several others.
Quinn, a likely 2013 mayoral candidate serving her second term as speaker, said the interfaith weekend may become an annual event “if it needs to be, unless at some point we won’t need it, but it’s very likely that it will be.”