STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. Less than a week after hate speech was written on a yeshiva wall in Meiers Corners, nearly 100 Staten Islanders, including religious and community leaders, gathered at a unity rally on Tuesday to denounce hate and encourage peace and kindness.
The unity rally was organized by Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon and his Hate Crimes Task Force which is Co-Chaired by Scott Maurer, the CEO and Executive Vice-President of the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations. The press conference was held at the Chabad of Staten Island on Tuesday.
The graffiti was discovered on the side of the building Thursday morning, the eve of Lag B’Omer, a Jewish holiday celebrating unity and freedom from persecution.
The words, “Synagogue of Satan,” was written on the Chabad of Staten Island, while across the street, the letters “SOS” were written on the Yeshiva Zichron Paltiel of Staten Island, referencing the aforementioned phrase.
Residents and members of the Jewish community were joined by local elected officials, NYPD Assistant Chief Kenneth Corey, borough commander of Staten Island, and the Staten Island Hate Crimes Task Force.
Rabbi Moshe Katzman told the crowd that when he first learned of the graffiti on Thursday morning, he wanted to keep the vandalism quiet, and not make it a big deal. After people started to reach out to him, and photos of the hate speech on social media, he made the decision to use this hateful crime as a way to spread kindness. “Every act of evil, we need to redouble our acts of kindness,” Rabbi Moshe Katzman said. “And this is the only way we can continue in life. “Rep. Max Rose, District Attorney Michael McMahon, Borough President James Oddo, Assemblymembers Michael Cusick, Nicole Malliotakis, and Michael Reilly, and Councilmembers Joseph Borelli and Steve Matteo, spoke at the unity rally as well as COJO CEO and Executive Vice-President Scott Maurer to encourage kindness and push back against hate.
At the event Tuesday morning on Harold Street, officials themselves grabbed paint rollers and removed a message of hate written on the side of the Chabad of Staten Island. “We’re taking a stand for light because only light can defeat darkness,” District Attorney Michael McMahon said. “We’re taking a stand for love because only love can defeat hate. “Officials from the NYPD were also on hand to discuss the crimes.
“Someone out there knows who perpetrated this crime,” NYPD Assistant Chief and Staten Island Borough Commander Ken Corey said. “Tell us. Help us keep you safe. “There has been a rise in anti-Semitic crimes, and there have been calls to address the issue before it gets any uglier.
Mendy Mirocznik, president of the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organization thanked District Attorney Michael McMahon for putting together this important press conference. “In these trying times, the key is communication and confidence building.” Mirocznik added, “We at COJO value the direct line of communication that we have with District Attorney McMahon, Chief Kenneth Corey and members of the broader Staten Island community. We at COJO appreciate that both District Attorney McMahon and Chief Corey are taking a strong vigilant stand against hate and anti-Semitism and these measures are giving the residents of Staten Island the fortitude and courage not to surrender to fear and hate. Our prayer is that we should no longer know of the evil of anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry.”