NEW YORK (Nov. 2)
An increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents are plaguing communities in Suffolk County, Long Island. As a result, County Executive Director Peter Cohalan has announced the formation of a task force to coordinate police patrols around Jewish institutions.
He said the task force was a necessity because “there have been acts of vandalism and terror against Jewish houses of warship.” Cohalan added that “these are clearly acts of anti-Semitism and a violation of human rights and dignity” and called upon residents to “assist the police to bring those responsible to justice.” He asked anyone with information to call the police at (516) 285-5000.
The latest series of incidents began Aug. 16 when the annex of the Lake Grove Jewish Center was burned to the ground. Two weeks later a hangman’s noose and swastikas were found in the charred ruins of the synagogue’s annex. Rabbi Reuben Luckens, the congregation’s spiritual leader, noted that more than 100 families, about half the congregation, have quit the synagogue since these incidents, adding that “people are afraid.”
Another incident was reported by Rabbi Gabriel Maza, president of the Suffolk County Board of Rabbis. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah vandals broke into the Hebrew Academy of Suffolk County in Hauppauge and flooded the school with four inches of water. Several other synagogues were damaged and desecrated with obscenities, and there were several thefts of valuable silver and religious objects.
REPORT OF THREATS
There were also threats directed at State Senator James Lack and Huntington Supervisor Kenneth Butterfield for renaming Vanderbilt Parkway in Dix Hills to Hadassah Parkway for a week in honor of Hadassah which was raising funds for the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. An anonymous phone caller told Butterfield’s wife: “I’ll get your husband. I’ve got a sniper and I’ll get the Jews, too. ” As a result, the two legislators wore bullet-proof vests, provided by the police, when they rode in a town parade shortly after the call.
A few days later, an automobile was driven onto the sidewalk and front lawn of the Suffolk Jewish Center in Deer Park, narrowly missing worshippers emerging from services. In another incident of the Jewish Center in Deer Park, vandals etched crosses into the lawn.
Following this rash of incidents, Rabbi Maza called for a police task force to combat the anti-Semitic activities and Cohalan agreed that it was necessary to establish a force. Rabbi Mare Tanenbaum, interreligious affairs director of the American, Jewish Committee, commended Cohalan’s action. Tanenbaum said: “I think it’s tragic that this had to happen, but it’s absolutely essential to combat anti-human and anti-Semitic forces. ” He added that “one ought not underestimate the magnitude” of anti-Semitism as there is “international anarchy brewing.”
Melvin Cooperman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith also praised Cohalan’s decision. Cooperman said that “the assigning of police is a fine fulfillment of the public trust. The perpetrators will not go un-apprehended. They will not act with impunity. The situation is taking a dimension of powerful concern in the community.”