Several hundred people jammed into MacDonald Park in Queens on Sunday, where Jewish leaders and representatives of various faiths demonstrated a united stance against hate and anti-Semitism.
Demonstrators carried signs showing their dismay over the hate attacks, especially after the Hanukkah stabbing attack at a rabbi’s home in upstate Monsey and the murder of four people at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City last month. Both violent acts were hate crimes.
Members of the ecumenical crowd spoke at this rally, while elected officials stood back and watched. Rabbis, imams, priests and other orthodox Jewish leaders slammed the attacks.
Ethan Felder, an organizer of the event and an assistant general counsel for the SEIU union said, “No racist organization will ever destroy American aspirations.”
“I am a proud American Jew and we are one borough and we are better together – and there are those who are here who are not Jewish and we thank you for being here with us,” Felder said. “We have always been a borough of faith and family for all people and we will not let racists change that.”
Jeff Kohn, an organizer of the event, said, “Jews who are visibly Jewish are under attack in our city.” He said they are both being physically and verbally abused, and “when those who stay silent and do not speak up, all Jews suffer.”
He recalled his own grandfather, Moshe Kohn, who when he was 17 in Nazi Germany. The Nazis had burned his shul down and destroyed his parents’ business.
“One of 10 children, he and his brother and sister fled Germany. His parents sent them away so that ‘things could settle down’ – ‘this too shall pass.’ He would never see his parents again. We will never go quietly into the night,” Kohn said.
Amy Geffen stood with friends holding signs against hate. She said she worries that this could get worse.
“We are here because this country is turning into police state, there is too much violence,” Geffen said. “This is not German in 1939. This is the United States in 2020, and we have to make sure people are safe, no matter their ethnicity, their background or their religion.”
A line of children were also on hand from the Reform Temple of Forest Hills holding a banner for their school.
“We are here to stop hate, and stop anti-Semitism – people are being mean to Jews, and we need to make people not being mean to Jews or anyone, other wise we are in danger,” said 8-year-old Lily Goldfarb of Forest Hills.
District Attorney Melinda Katz stood by listening to the speakers, ready to prosecute anyone who attacks people out of hate. But she said it was important for all religious institutions to stand together on the issue.
“This is a great time to be a Queens resident – we are all getting together in central Queens because when one of us attacked it is important show people that we will all stand together,” Katz said. “Whether it is a mosque or synagogue, an African-American Church, all religious institutions have to make sure we have each others back.”