I stand here with tremendous pain and with a heavy heart. It is my identifiable Orthodox Jewish community that has recently come under attack more than any other. Despite us desperately sounding the alarm, until today we really have not seen nearly enough sympathy or understanding for this sad reality- even from some of our own.
Though I am not Chasidic, my heart beats as one with the blood of our Chasidic community. Their voices have been mostly silenced and marginalized. I am here for them also. Be it in Monsey, Jersey City, Williamsburg, Boro Park or Crown Heights let there be no mistake, it is identifiable Chasidic and Orthodox Jews that have predominantly been the victims of the escalating anti-Semitic violence we are protesting today. This violence didn’t begin in a vacuum. It is the product and outgrowth of years of unchecked bias, prejudice and misunderstanding.
I am gratified to see so many standing here today in solidarity against hate and fear. It is encouraging, long overdue and the right thing. I thank the organizers for bringing us together. Attending today is a recognition that something is dramatically wrong. We all know it. If recent events teach us anything it is that we need to do a lot more to prevent the bashing and bigotry directed at Chasidim. Though they may look different, Chasidim are your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends and contributing citizens of this great country. They are human beings and deserving of equal treatment and respect. They are no different than you and me.
Also important to note-
Anti-Semitism comes in many shapes and forms and from many sources. Of course, it is the dramatic and heinous crimes in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and Monsey that grab the media and society’s attention. But for every large scale, high profile incident there are dozens of random attacks on identifiable Jews that barely register. You might not be aware that there were numerous anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn just between the Jersey City and Monsey attacks. Knock downs, rock throwing, and the random cursing at Jews is becoming the norm. It is outrageous and it is unacceptable for us and should be for you!
Also unacceptable is the attacks on our Orthodox religious curriculum and Yeshivas. This is an organized effort to devaluate this vital educational system by a vocal minority who are here today, professing to care about anti-Semitic prejudice. These well-funded and coordinated attacks sow the seeds of hatred and animosity towards Chasidim and the larger Orthodox world. Their efforts are as dangerous to the safety and wellbeing of my community as the threats we are rallying against here today.
My friends, you can’t march against hatred here today while permitting certain forms of bigotry tomorrow. It simply doesn’t work. Anti-Orthodox antagonists are using social media to spread the most vile and despicable anti-Hasidic bigotry online. These hateful smears are shared, liked and retweeted unabated. There is strong belief of a direct connection between the online hatred aimed at Orthodox Jews and the dramatic increase in violence against Chasidim. It is this hatred that manifests in increasing danger against our children, our neighborhoods and our institutions. We must call out and protest those responsible including the social media companies that host it.
There must be an end to denying Orthodox Jews their civil and religious rights. Jews must have the right to live wherever they want, free of bigotry and intolerance. Elected officials must speak up to better protect our growing Orthodox communities all across the region and identify anti-Semitic discrimination wherever and whenever they see it. The same should be true for all communities. We need their voice, we need your voice!
Jews in America have always lived in a tolerant and welcoming society. It is our hope and fervent prayer to the Almighty that we work together towards shared goals and combat hateful bigotry and intolerance of ALL people. Make no mistake, our future depends on it.
Thank you for listening.