By Marshall Cooper and Dorothy Mai
In the past six weeks, the New York City Police Department reported a 110 percent increase in hate incidents, many of them directed towards Jewish institutions including one bomb threat on Long Island, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The person responsible for a majority of the bomb threats, an unnamed 19-year old Jewish man from Israel, was arrested this past Thursday in connection with 16 cases.
“When we found out on the news of who did this, it was even more insulting and mortifying,” Ira Litkofsky, Office Manager of the Congregation Shaaray Shalom in West Hempstead, said. “I think people have gotten a bit nervous and more vigilant, making us a bit worried. We are very lucky that we have police presence here day and night around the community.”
Increased anti-Semitism across the United States has caused members of the Long Island Jewish community to worry about their safety.
“Many of our sister organizations and friends at Jewish Community Centers have received forms of anti-semitism and we are well aware,” Garrison-Feinberg, Director of School of Programs for
Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Nassau County, said. “We are working with many of those other organizations to put out a united front against biased and intolerance of any kind and any anti-semitism in particular.”
Over 100 Jewish Centers have received bomb threats including Mid Island JCC in Plainview, which was evacuated after bomb threat, according to Anti-Defamation League’s audit on anti-semitic behavior.
In 2015, the number of anti-Semitic attacks had increased by 3 percent. This year, that percentage is expected to rise.
“Supposedly in New York City, there seems to be almost a three times increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents,” Joseph Topek, Director of Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life, said. “Some of it has been directed at individuals and it’s concerning.”
Suffolk County Police department met with members of the Jewish Center of Bay Shore this month after vandalism to Jewish cemeteries and a dozen bomb threats to Jewish community centers reported across the state.
“Unfortunately right now there has been some people who have felt empowered for whatever reason, to be much more open about their hatred and biased than they might have before,” Garrison-FeinBerg said. “I think it’s troubling. I think that a lot of times when there is a pretty well publicized incident. sometimes it does invite copy cat. Either because people who hold those biased beliefs feel like they can get away with public displays or bc others just want to draw attention to themselves.”