Tens of thousands of people converged on lower Manhattan Sunday morning for a massive march against anti-Semitism in the wake of a series of violent incidents aimed at the city’s Jewish community.
Coming from as far away as Cleveland, Ohio, and Boston, Massachusetts, the protesters came together in Foley Square prior to the planned march across the Brooklyn Bridge to Columbus Park, where they were set to show their solidarity with those targeted in attacks in Monsey, Jersey City, and Brooklyn.
“Proud to be setting out with fellow Bostonians to march with our brothers and sisters in New York today,” tweeted Marc Baker, the head of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston.
A second rally was being held concurrently outside the headquarters of the Jewish Agency for Israel in downtown Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his support for the New York rally.
We stand with the many thousands of our brothers, sisters and friends in NYC marching against the rising Antisemitism. We will not waver in our battle against Antisemitism and hate.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 5, 2020
The New York event — which is sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York along with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the Anti-Defamation League of New York, the American Jewish Committee of New York and the New York Board of Rabbis — was endorsed by both local civic leaders and The New York Times, which called it “a chance for people of all faiths and backgrounds to show critical support for New York’s Jewish communities.”
— Natalie (@natalierachel) January 5, 2020
Since the December 10 massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey, there have been a spate of physical attacks against Jews. Late last month, an assailant broke into the Monsey, New York, home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg and used a long machete to stab guests gathered for a Hanukkah celebration. Five people were injured in the attack, which authorities have deemed a hate crime, and two remain hospitalized.
Following that incident, New York City announced that it will launch three initiatives aimed at combating anti-Semitic hate crimes, one of which involves increasing the NYPD’s presence in Jewish neighborhoods, such as Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg.
Aside from the big rally on Sunday, smaller events have been held in various locations in recent weeks. Last Tuesday, around 250 people gathered to show solidarity with the Jewish community at a rally in Brooklyn, Haaretz reported.
— CantorPK???? (@cantorpenny) January 5, 2020
On Saturday, non-Jewish residents of Bergenfield, New Jersey gathered outside of local synagogues with signs to express solidarity and, according to a member of the local community, “stood there for hours greeting their Jewish neighbors.”
Participants in Sunday’s march included New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Speaking in Foley Square, Cuomo stated that New York “will provide $45 million in additional funding to protect religious-based institutions and non-public schools.”
“We will not let the cancer of hate and intolerance weaken us,” he declared.
Proud to stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters at the #NoHateNoFear march in NYC.
NY will provide $45 million in additional funding to protect religious-based institutions & non-public schools.
We will not let the cancer of hate and intolerance weaken us. pic.twitter.com/Ar5wwnye3t
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 5, 2020
Afterwards, de Blasio’s office tweeted a video of civic leaders as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge carrying a blue banner declaring “no hate, no fear.”
“Anti-Semitism is an attack on ALL New Yorkers — and we stand up for our neighbors in this city,” the tweet declared.
“Anti-Semitism is an attack on ALL New Yorkers — and we stand up for our neighbors in this city.”
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) January 5, 2020
Participants appeared to be in an upbeat mood. “Incredible turnout on this beautiful day. Inspiring, truly. This is what standing up, united , against antisemitism looks like,” one participant tweeted.
In October, the New York Police Department reported that the number of hate crimes against Jews in New York City had risen significantly over the first nine months of this year, part of a citywide rise in such offenses. The NYPD reported 311 total hate crimes through September, as opposed to 250 reported through the same period in 2018.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Tracker of Anti-Semitic Incidents shows more than 20 incidents took place in New York in December 2019 alone. However, not every incident is reported, opening up the possibility that the problem is worse than the official statistics may indicate.
JTA contributed to this report.