Marching in weather that brought spring to mind more than winter, more than 2,000 people ranging from elected officials to religious leaders to people from across Long Island, walked a half-mile on County Seat Drive to the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative building on Franklin Avenue in Mineola to show support for the Jewish community and their opposition to hate.
The Jan. 12 march was the second consecutive such event in the metropolitan area, following an onslaught of anti-Semitic attacks in December. On. Jan. 4, 25,000 people marched through Manhattan and Brooklyn in an effort to show solidarity after the assaults.
Among them, a Queens man verbally abused and physically threatened three people, including a rabbi and an 11-year-old, in the North Lawrence Costco on Dec. 8; three civilians and a police detective were killed, along with two armed suspects, in a shootout in a Jersey City kosher supermarket on Dec. 10; and five people were stabbed in upstate Monsey on Dec. 28, at a Hanukkah party at a rabbi's house.
Marchers were behind a huge banner that read “Long Island Is Against Anti-Semitism” and individually they held signs that read “No Hate, No Fear,” “Don’t Hate Just Love,” “Stop the Hate,” and ones that identified the groups the marchers represented. One small group of Jewish men wore T-Shirts that read, “I’m Proud To Be Jewish.”
“It is our mission to fight anti-Semitism in all forms of bias and bullying,” said Deborah Lom, director of development for the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, explaining why people from the museum marched. “It is so important to be here and not just for Jewish people, but for Muslims, African-Americans, everybody.” The museum was also a victim of a bias crime as swastikas were found spray painted there last month.
Representatives from the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC in the Five Towns marched as well. Associate Executive Director Stacey Feldman said that the march showed that hate will not be tolerated. “It’s important to come together as a community to stand strong against all forms of discrimination,” she said. “By coming together, we show a strong voice against anyone who wishes to hurt anyone on the basis of religion.”
Woodmere resident Ann DeMichael, who said her two sons-in-law are Jewish, said the constant attacks are “heartbreaking.” “I support all Americans, I’m an Italian-American,” she said, “we have to stand together as we are all one.”
Outside the legislative building, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said history has taught us that “when anti-Semitism raises its ugly head we must smite it down with all our force, all our power and we will.”
Rabbi Anchelle Perl from the Chabad of Mineola said that it is important that everyone oppose hate. “It’s our urgent task to build bridges with our fellow citizens, to support them when they are in need and call in allies when our communities are targeted,” he said.
Building bridges between religions and everyone, Dr. Isma Chaudhry, chairwoman of the Islamic Center of Long Island, said she saw a strong Long Island at the march. “I’m proud to be an American Muslim, I’m proud to be a Long Islander and I’m proud to live in Nassau County.”