More than 2,500 Long Islanders from an array of backgrounds filled the streets of Mineola for the March Against Anti-Semitism to show solidarity following a recent spate of hate crimes targeting the Jewish community.
Marchers holding signs denouncing hatred started at the corner of County Seat Drive and 11th Street and ended on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building, where local leaders spoke out against anti-Semitism.
“What history has taught us is this,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who recalled his family’s persecution at the hands of Nazis in Ukraine in 1941. “If we speak out, we will prevail. Let us continue to speak out, to march, and to act together.”
The march was organized by the Islandwide Task Force Against Anti-Semitism and Symbols of Hate, a coalition formed last month in response to the rise in hate crimes. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 1,879 incidents of Anti-Semitism were reported nationwide in 2018 and in the past year anti-Semitic crimes have increased by 21 percent in New York City.
Recent local incidents include a spate of anti-Semitic assaults in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community, a suspect allegedly stabbing five people at a rabbi’s house during a Hanukkah party in surburban Rockland County, and racist graffiti and swastikas found at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove.
“It’s important that we know our history,” said New York State Attorney General Leticia James, adding that her office is forming a coalition between the African American and Jewish communities. “It was Jewish storekeepers who allowed black people not to go to the back door, but through the front door, and it was the blood of Jewish people that died for my freedom and your freedom. We stand together in love and recognizing that hate will not be tolerated in Long Island or anywhere in the states.”
Many of the marchers were local residents, such as married couple Susan and Charlie Deutsch, who grew up in Mineola.
“Anti-Semitism is becoming rampant and we have to speak up,” Charlie said. “If you don’t say anything it’s just going to continue.”
Rabbi Perl Anchelle, director of the Chabad of Mineola, emphasized the urgency of the march.
“It’s crucial that we all stand up to hate, no matter where it occurs,” said Rabbi Perl. “It’s an urgent task to build bridges with our fellow citizens to support them when they are in need and call on allies to help us when our communities are targeted. Sending a united front against hate, we can send the message that anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate symbols of all kinds have no place in our community.”