In an effort to combat the rising incidents of anti-Semitism across the city, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato are teaming with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to bring a pair of educational town halls to the Rockaways in the coming months that will discuss hate crimes today and what is being done to prevent them.
Members of the Simon Wiesenthal Center will be on hand, as well as Michael Brovner, deputy chief of Gang Violence and Hate Crimes from the Queens district attorney’s office, to explain how they are working to stop anti-Semitism in the borough.
“This is Queens, the ‘World’s Borough.’ We are in the most diverse county in the nation and we will not tolerate anti-Semitism in our communities,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “Sadly, we are living in a climate where people feel emboldened to express intolerance purely on their own ignorance. I am outraged by the rise in hate crimes that we have experienced in the last few years. The Queens district attorney’s office has a bureau dedicated to prosecuting those who act on their hate and as your DA, know that I will do everything within my power to keep residents safe. This is a vital step in eradicating hate through education.”
Last year, anti-Semitic graffiti was found scrawled on the walls of the Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point. This incident sparked a partnership between the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the National Park Service and Ortega National Parks to combat anti-Semitism and hate.
“In the wake of the anti-Semitic attacks at both the Silver Gull Beach Club and in Belle Harbor this past fall, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is proud to partner with Senator Addabbo and Assembly member Pheffer Amato on this critical series of forums, and commends their extraordinary dedication toward ensuring that our local communities are educated about the unfortunate hate around them and how together we can better work to more effectively combat it,” said Michael Cohen, eastern director at Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The first event in this two-part series will take place on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the West End Temple, located at 147-02 Newport Ave. in Rockaway Park. The second event is in the process of being planned.
“Hate crimes are some of the most heinous crimes because the victims are targeted for their nationality, color of their skin, or their faith,” Addaboo said. “No one should have to live in fear because of where they come from, what they look like or how they worship. I believe one of the best ways to combat hate crimes, and specifically anti-Semitism, is through education.”
Participants of the town halls will receive information and resources on what to do if they see a hate crime taking place, or are the victim of a hate crime. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP with Pheffer Amato’s district office by calling 718-945-9550.
“It is so important that we stand up together against bigotry, intolerance, and anti-Semitism,” Pheffer Amato said. “As a community and state, we must continue to educate the public and our youth about what hate crimes are so that we can prevent future victims.”