Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated Jewish heritage Wednesday evening at a Gracie Mansion reception, telling the hundreds of participants that New York City has fulfilled the centuries-old dream of Jews to live peacefully, without worries of anti-Semitism.
De Blasio, who represented a slice of Boro Park in the City Council prior to his election as mayor, noted that there are more Jews in New York than in any other city in the world. He said he was committed to being the voice calling out anti-Semitism in the Western world, particularly in Western Europe, where bias attacks against Jews have skyrocketed in the past year.
“They have to recognize,” he said, “you cannot be a healthy democracy if you don’t confront every attack of hatred and intolerance.”
The Democratic mayor said that having just returned from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis, it dawned on him how integral Yiddish was to the New York fabric.
“Every time someone told me that they had got an award or done something great in their city, I immediately started to say ‘Mazel Tov,’ And I realize that not everybody is clued in on that,” de Blasio joked. “And you know they told me about their political opponents I’d say, he’s [a] ‘mashugana’ and you know it dawns on me, as New Yorkers — to really be a New Yorker you have to basically integrate a certain number of Yiddish words into your everyday life.”
Also attending the reception was an array of commissioners, including NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, as well as “the deputy mayor who brought pre-K all over the city, including to yeshivos all over the city — Deputy Mayor Richard Buery,” de Blasio said.
The mayor also paid tribute to Israel’s consul general to New York, Ido Aharoni, who is returning home after a five-year stint. De Blasio issued a proclamation declaring Wednesday “Ido Aharoni Day” in New York, presenting him with a porcelain Big Apple.
“Everyone I know in New York City really likes Ido, and New Yorkers don’t like anyone,” de Blasio joked.