Marching in weather that brought spring to mind more than winter, more than 2,000 people, including many elected officials and religious leaders to people from across Long Island, walked a half-mile on County Seat Drive to the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative building on Franklin Avenue in Mineola to show their support for the Jewish community and their opposition to hate on Jan 12.
“Anti-Semitism is real and it’s growing,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi. “Why is this happening at this time in history? There is too much divisive rhetoric.”
The march was the second consecutive such event in the metropolitan area, following a series of anti-Semitic attacks in December, including repeated graffiti-related hate crimes at the Nassau County Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove.
On. Jan. 4, 25,000 people marched through Manhattan and Brooklyn to show solidarity after the assaults. Among the incidents, a Queens man verbally abused and physically threatened three people, including a rabbi and an 11-year-old, in the North Lawrence Costco on Dec. 8; three civilians and a police detective were killed, along with two armed suspects, in a shootout in a Jersey City kosher supermarket on Dec. 10; and five people were stabbed in upstate Monsey on Dec. 28, at a Hanukkah party at a rabbi’s house.
Marchers walked behind a large banner that read “Long Island Is Against Anti-Semitism,” and individually they held signs that read “No Hate, No Fear,” “Don’t Hate Just Love,” “Stop the Hate” and ones that identified the groups the marchers represented. One small group of Jewish men wore T-Shirts that read, “I’m Proud To Be Jewish.”
“When you have Democrats and Republicans, and people of all different faiths and ethnic backgrounds and races together, we say e pluribus unum – out of many one,” Suozzi said. “That is what we are doing here today. We stand united to stop the hate.”
Representatives from the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC in the Five Towns marched as well. Associate Executive Director Stacey Feldman said that the march showed hate will not be tolerated. “It’s important to come together as a community to stand strong against all forms of discrimination,” she said. “By coming together, we show a strong voice against anyone who wishes to hurt anyone on the basis of religion.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach who represents the Five Towns, noted that a bill he is sponsoring with Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove, would require hate symbols such as the swastika to be part of the curriculum for all New York public school students in grades six to 12. Lavine has been vocal in condemning the recent acts of anti-Semitism that struck Glen Cove.
“Anti-Semitism is a plague in our society and hate against any and all groups of people is a problem for our society,” Lavine said. “There was a presence of hope at today’s march. My colleagues and I are working hard to make sure that the streets of New York are safer for everyone.”
Avi Posnick, the northeast regional director for Stand With Us, an international education organization that educates and empowers students to fight anti-Semitism, noted the importance of influencing young people with education.
“We are all very concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in New York and our streets,” he said. “We’ve also seen the rise of anti-Semitism in our schools. No one is born hating, no one is born being an anti-Semite. However, today’s students are the leaders of tomorrow. We must educate them today before their hearts and minds are poisoned tomorrow.”