NYC’s Mayor Adams in Jerusalem: It’s time to put faith into action to combat hate

Eric Adams begins 3-day trip to Israel by discussing antisemitism and tolerance with interfaith leaders; set to meet Netanyahu Tuesday, as well as anti-overhaul protest leaders

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (L) meets with Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem on August 21, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (L) meets with Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem on August 21, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams kicked off a three-day trip to Israel on Monday, meeting with interfaith leaders in Jerusalem to discuss antisemitism and tolerance.

The mayor, a self-professed man of faith, told Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze representatives welcoming him to the city that rising global tensions demand that people convert their religious principles into actions.

“We are now at a moment that I believe we have to transcend our desire and our faith to move from being worshipers to practitioners,” he said. “What we learn in our churches, synagogues and mosques cannot remain in the sterilized environment of our places of faith,” the mayor continued.

New York boasts the world’s largest Jewish metropolitan population, and Adams’ visit comes as antisemitic violence continues to persist in New York City, which tallied 100 anti-Jewish hate crimes in the first half of 2023. The mayor, a former police captain who has championed increased public safety, is considered to have good relations with several of the city’s Jewish communities.

Some of those communities have acknowledged Israel’s own tense moment, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition continues to press to cut judicial constraints on governmental power. The progressive New York Jewish Agenda has called on Adams to meet with protesters against Netanyahu’s judicial shakeup.

On Tuesday, the mayor is scheduled to meet separately with Netanyahu and then protest leaders, according to a schedule sent by his office on Monday night.

While he avoided touching on Israel’s judicial overhaul debate, Adams said broader, global, catastrophic themes have given leaders and people of faith “an awesome responsibility to heal our nations.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (L) with UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric Goldstein in Jerusalem, August 21, 2023. (UJA-Federation of New York)

Sheikh Khalid Abu Ras, a Muslim interfaith leader, echoed Adams’ sentiment, saying that: “The plurality of views making up the Israeli mosaic is the challenge that, if handled with care, can bring us to a wider and more beautiful space.”

Similarly, Father Aghan Gogchian, the chancellor of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, stressed the need for tolerance.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate,” he said. “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that.”

Human rights champion and former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky also stressed the centrality of coexistence to Jerusalem’s inner workings, while progressive Jewish educational leader Rabbi Avital Hochstein pushed for religious pluralism.

Adams has toured Israel previously, but Monday opened his first visit since taking New York’s top municipal seat in 2022. In addition to discussing “combined efforts to combat antisemitism,” the Mayor’s Office said that Adams plans to learn about Israeli technology during his visit.

On Monday evening, Adams was scheduled to meet with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, and on Wednesday, he will meet with tech industry representatives in Tel Aviv. In addition to meeting the prime minister and anti-overhaul protesters on Tuesday, Adams will meet with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust history museum, and visit the Western Wall. The Mayor’s Office has not yet released his full Wednesday schedule.

Several past New York City mayors have visited Israel while in office, with an Israel trip almost considered a right of passage for the city’s top official.

Adams’ visit is sponsored and funded by the New York UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, two mainstream Jewish organizations.

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