UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Though the message from extremists to the Jewish community Saturday is one of hate, Rabbi Joshua Davidson says the response to those spewing that hate is louder.
"I believe the only way to defeat it is to stand up to it - not be intimidated by it," he said.
The congregation at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side is certainly not hiding. In fact, they are doing just the opposite - choosing to hold Shabbat outside their Fifth Avenue sanctuary.
The outdoor service on a cold morning drew a heavy police presence - a similar sight at houses of worship across the city. This comes after Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist groups coined Saturday a 'Day of Hate,' encouraging online followers to harass and target Jewish communities.
"Sadly it does not come as a surprise given the vitriol and the anger of the national discourse," said Rabbi Davidson.
There have been at least 35 hate crimes reported to the NYPD so far this year. According to the latest numbers, about half are targeting the Jewish community.
Governor Hochul made a special visit to Beit Simchat Torah on Saturday morning. Mayor Adams also delivered a message to the Jewish community just days ago after Anti-Semitic protests outside the Broadway musical 'Parade.'
"We have the largest Jewish population outside of Tel Aviv," said Mayor Adams.
Unity was a common theme on Saturday. The NYPD and all temples want congregants to feel safe - all congregants, and that includes leaders of different faiths who have come to prove many voices are louder than one.
"I think there is power and beauty in solidarity - on a strange awful day like this, we need to be here," said Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston, Senior Pastor of Fifth Ave Presbyterian Church.
Kari Parks is a Christian who is doing her part - attending Temple Emanu-El's service.
"I think it's really important that everybody who believes in human beings all having the same dignity of life can show up here and make a stand," Parks said.
They were all praying that one day there will be peace - exactly what Shabbat stands for.
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