Claiming that it is “no longer safe” to be Orthodox Jewish amid a spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the borough, a cadre of Brooklyn legislators fired off a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday demanding more state and federal resources to protect religious neighborhoods.
“Simply stated, it is no longer safe to be identifiably Orthodox in the State of New York. We cannot shop, walk down a street, send our children to school, or even worship in peace,” said the letter penned by State Sen. Simcha Felder (D–Borough Park), Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein (D–Midwood), and Councilmen Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Kalman Yeger (D–Borough Park). “This has been appropriately described as a ‘slow-rolling pogrom.’”
The four city and state legislators — who represent largely-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn — called on Cuomo to send state police and the New York National Guard to “visibly” patrol Orthodox Jewish areas in the state.
The politicians also demanded the state’s chief executive appoint a special prosecutor specifically to investigate and prosecute anti-Semitic crimes, which are currently under the jurisdiction of local district attorneys.
The demands come on the heels of a spate of violence against Jewish Brooklynites, and a bloody attack at a rabbi’s upstate home — where a man stormed into a rabbi’s home and stabbed five people as they celebrated Hanukkah on Saturday.
The bloody episode was the 13th anti-Semitic attack statewide since Dec. 8, according to Cuomo, who labeled the attack “domestic terrorism” and promised that state police would increase patrols in Jewish neighborhoods across the state.
“Hostility based on religion, race, creed, immigration status is an American cancer that is spreading throughout the body politic,” Cuomo said in a statement. “In New York, we will never tolerate such hate and hostility in any form, and we will put an end to this cancer not just through our words, but through our actions.”
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Brooklyn legislators’ additional demands for resources.