New York Jewish Week via JTA — A popular Shabbat dinner with New York City politicians at the Somos political conference in San Juan was interrupted multiple times by pro-Palestinian protesters.
The following day, an inert grenade was found at Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and a false bomb threat was called into Central Synagogue in Midtown Manhattan.
The threats and disruptions on Shabbat come more than a month into the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and amid a significant uptick in antisemitic incidents in New York City. The number of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the city in October was 214% higher than in October 2022, according ot the NYPD. The bomb threats also come following a rash of similar fake threats at Jewish institutions nationwide earlier this year.
The Somos Conference is a large political conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that draws thousands community leaders and senior New York politicians each year to discuss issues of importance to Latinos in New York state and beyond. A Friday night dinner at the conference, sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty — which has evolved into an “essential stop on the circuit,” as City & State reported last year — was interrupted several times by protesters opposing Israel’s conduct in the war in Gaza.
Both UJA and Met Council have mobilized in support of Israelis since Hamas-led terrorists invaded Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking at least 240 hostage, but the Somos event was not focused on Israel or the war.
Protesters covered their hands in fake blood and shouted slogans in at the crowded event. One protester wore a scarf with the colors of the Palestinian flag and shouted, “Stop it!” Another chanted, “Never again for anyone! Plenty of Jews in New York hate genocide!”
Pro-Palestine activists are rallying outside the Shomer Shabbos Somos event – hosted by the UJA, Met Council and Chabad of Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/y3Z0QIHocA
— Jeff Coltin (@JCColtin) November 11, 2023
“On the 85th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, ‘protestors’ BLOCKED people from observing Shabbat at our Friday night reception,” David Greenfield, a former New York City council member and the CEO of the Met Council, wrote on social media, regarding the 1938 Nazi anti-Jewish riot. “Was this an ‘Israel’ event? Nope. But it was a Jewish one.”
Another Pro-Palestinian protester interrupts Jewish Shabbat event at NY Democrats Somos conference pic.twitter.com/1bcQb334Zu
— Zach Williams (@ZachReports) November 11, 2023
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a left-wing Jewish group based in New York that has accused Israel of genocide, also held a Friday night event at Somos in which members prayed “for an end to the brutal siege on Gaza, and the return of all hostages.”
The following morning, in New York City, the NYPD bomb squad was called when someone found a grenade at Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay, a city park. Police determined the grenade to be inert.
Soon afterward, police arrived at Central Synagogue after a caller notified 911 of two bags there that were going to explode. The threat appeared to be non-credible. The threat did not appear to disrupt the synagogue’s services, according to a livestream on Facebook.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.