New York mayor meets with Jewish leaders, police brass on rising antisemitism

Eric Adams calls meeting with Jewish community representatives, vows to investigate anti-Jewish crimes ‘thoroughly’ amid spate of attacks in city

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during the New York Democratic Party 2022 state Nominating Convention, in New York, February 17, 2022. (Kena Betancur/AFP)
New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during the New York Democratic Party 2022 state Nominating Convention, in New York, February 17, 2022. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams convened Jewish community leaders and city officials on Thursday to discuss a wave of antisemitic attacks in the city.

Adams called the meeting following a spate of incidents, including antisemitic vandalism against an Israeli restaurant on Thursday, as part of his administration’s effort to take a tough stance against anti-Jewish hate crimes.

“He came out very, very strongly that he’s not going to tolerate this,” said Rabbi David Niederman, the head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, who attended the meeting.

Around 40 Jewish community leaders from different areas of the city attended, along with top police officials and the head of the city’s education department.

Adams made clear that he has been discussing how to combat antisemitic crime with police officials, Niederman said.

“He said he is going to ensure that the department is not going to be shy to call something a hate crime if it is,” he said. “They will investigate very thoroughly to ensure that this stuff does not happen and they’ll take all necessary steps for enforcement and prosecution.”

The New York Police Department has consistently investigated attacks on Jews as hate crimes since Adams took office at the beginning of the year. Some local politicians have criticized the legal system for quickly letting the suspects free on bail.

Alexander Rosemberg, the Anti-Defamation League’s deputy regional director for the New York and New Jersey region, said Adams at the meeting had “conveyed to the Jewish community that he’s aware of the situation we’re going through,” and was trying to put the correct measures in place.

Adams is dealing with a host of problems, but his “heart is in the right place” when it comes to the antisemitism issue, Rosemberg said.

Rosemberg said the meeting’s attendees felt grateful toward Adams for calling the meeting and there was a feeling of collaboration in the room.

“Everybody wanted to bring their ideas forward, to say ‘this is what we’re willing to do for the city,'” Rosemberg said.

One possible measure under discussion is to make reporting crime on Shabbat easier, since many of the assaults happen during the Jewish Sabbath, when observant Jews do not carry communication devices.

The education department said at the meeting it will work on countering antisemitism and hate crimes with educational programs.

“He has education as a preventive measure front and center,” Rosemberg said of Adams.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adams forged strong ties to New York Jewish communities as Brooklyn’s borough president before becoming mayor and has forcefully condemned antisemitic incidents since taking office. He had a long career with the New York Police Department before entering politics.

He has appointed Orthodox Jews to his transition team and to his administration. This week he appointed Joel Eisdorfer, a Hasidic community leader from Borough Park, as a senior adviser, to widespread applause from Jewish leaders.

A sign for an anti-antisemitism campaign, New York City, August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)

There has been a slew of antisemitic attacks against New York Jews in recent weeks, mostly physical assaults against visibly Jewish individuals and hateful graffiti.

Most recently, on Thursday, vandals sprayed “Fuck Jews” three times on a newly opened Israeli restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The last two weekends saw assaults against Jews during Shabbat. Last week, an attacker hit a Jewish teenager in the face, vandals scrawled antisemitic graffiti on a dental office and an assailant smashed the windshield of a Jewish school bus with children on board. A suspect in the assault was arrested on Thursday.

The previous weekend, New York police said they were investigating three alleged antisemitic attacks in Brooklyn over Shabbat. Two were physical assaults and one was antisemitic graffiti.

Other recent incidents in the New York region in recent weeks have included numerous acts of vandalism such as spray painting swastikas, verbal abuse, blasting Jews with snow, spitting on children and physical violence.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has also forcibly condemned antisemitic incidents and ordered state police to assist in investigations.

The New York Police Department’s hate crimes unit reported 22 hate crimes against Jewish people from January 1 through the first week of February, compared to eight in the same time period last year.

Hate crimes usually do not lead to arrests in New York. The 198 confirmed hate crimes against Jews in New York last year only resulted in 58 arrests.

Jews are targeted in hate crimes more than any other group in New York City, by far. Anti-Jewish attacks accounted for 38 percent of all confirmed hate crimes in New York City last year, according to NYPD statistics.

Rosemberg, of the ADL, said many incidents likely go unreported, and called on the public to report on any suspected hate crime.

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