Mayor Adams holds rally at City Hall amid rise in antisemitism, hate crimes

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Friday, December 8, 2023
Jewish man speaks out after being attacked outside Brooklyn home
Jim Dolan has more on the hate crime investigation.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As thousands of Jewish people begin to celebrate Hanukkah, hate crimes and incidents of bias are on the rise in New York City.

Mayor Eric Adams held a rally with religious leaders at City Hall Friday morning calling for unity, peace, and safety.

They addressed what the mayor says is a 250% rise in ethnically motivated hate crimes in the last two months, impacting both Jewish and Muslim communities.

In Albany Thursday evening, a man fired a shotgun outside Temple Israel hours before the start of Hanukkah. The suspect allegedly yelled "Free Palestine" before he was taken into custody.

No one was hurt, but the incident added to rising fears of antisemitism.

"The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is nonnegotiable," Governor Kathy Hochul said after the scare in Albany.

Back in the city, police are investigating at least two bias incidents targeting local Jewish communities.

On November 18, a suspect set fire to tarps displaying the Star of David outside a Jewish Japanese restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Video shows the suspect light the fire and walk around to admire his work as smoke rises and clouds the camera.

Another man is accused of beating a Jewish man in Crown Heights on Thursday while making antisemitic remarks.

Police released photos of the man they believe is responsible for the attack on Joshua Merenfeld.

"As a Jewish person, you hear people drive by and they say hail HItler or something and you just live with it and you just forget it and move on because it's just some idiot driving by, but it definitely doesn't feel good to have this happen in your own front yard," Merenfeld said.

The recent hate crimes and bias incidents come amid fallout from Israel's intensifying war in Gaza and criticism over the rising death toll in the Middle East.

The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is nonnegotiable.
Gov. Kathy Hochul

The mayor says New Yorkers will not live in fear.

"In this moment of high tension around the globe, it is more important than ever that we stand together as one, united against the rising tide of hatred and religious intolerance, we're seeing it and we're feeling it," Adams said.

Adams says the NYPD will remain on high alert with Hanukkah underway.

To mark the first night of Hanukkah, Jewish religious leaders and other faith officials gathered at Temple Emanuel on the East Side on Thursday. Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders came together to light the first candle of the holiday and celebrate an interfaith brotherhood.

In Columbus Circle, hundreds gathered with an altogether different menorah -- one with the message and prayer of a ceasefire in its heart.

In New Jersey, the city of Paterson, which has one of the largest Palestinian communities in the U.S. and once had a Jewish population of over 18,000, the menorah lighting had a special meaning for a community with so much diversity.

"As faith leaders we are coming together and we're each bringing out candle, and by lighting a candle, even in the coldest and darkest night, you bring light into this world, and if we can get all the faith leaders to bring light and then we can get all New Yorkers to bring light, there will be no more darkness," said Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz.


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