By Katie McFadden
As those of Jewish faith celebrate Passover around the world, recent incidents have shown that antisemitism is still alive. Acts of hate bookended both ends of the peninsula this week.
Police are on the search for three young suspects after carrying out not one, but two antisemitic attacks on members of the Jewish community in Far Rockaway. According to police, on Friday, April 7, a 49-year-old man was walking near the Orthodox synagogue, Yeshiva Ateret Shimon on Caffrey and Mott Avenue, just before 3 p.m., when the three suspects, believed to be two males and a female teenager, followed the man, and began shouting antisemitic remarks and throwing rocks at him. The female then allegedly threatened the man with a razor. After a passerby intervened, the suspects fled. The man was not injured.
But it wasn’t their only act that day. Later on, the teens allegedly approached a 48-year-old man around Beach 17th Street at 9:30 p.m. and began shouting antisemitic remarks at him. They got into a dispute that resulted in one of the teens pushing the man to the ground. The suspects then fled. The man was not injured.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating both incidents. The first incident was caught on video footage and the police need help identifying the suspects. Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
A few days later, antisemitism was displayed on the opposite end of the peninsula. Belle Harbor resident Jeffry Gitter, who is Jewish, reached out to The Rockaway Times on Tuesday, April 11, after being disturbed by what he found on the beach near his home.
“Kids were out partying last night on Beach 135th like they are often. I didn’t bother them, I walked outside to see what was happening and sometimes I offer them a garbage bag to clean up,” he said.
This morning (Tuesday), I go out to clean up after them, which I have to do often, and I pick up a couple beer cans and see a Bud Light beer box and written all over it in Sharpie is ‘f*** all Jews’ and swastikas. I’m Jewish and I found it very disturbing, so I called the police. They came and the response was what I expected, which was nothing. They said they can’t do anything because they didn’t see any commission of crime.”
That’s when Gitter reached out to local parishes, newspapers and local elected officials for more assistance. “Our neighbors have cameras and we’re trying to see if we can get footage. These are local kids, there’s no question about it,” he said. “I’m really furious. I find it to be such an insult. I want to know who these kids are and for them to face repercussions.”
Antisemitism is on the rise around New York City. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there was a 39% spike in antisemitic incidents in New York in 2022. And it isn’t the first time such incidents have occurred in Rockaway. There have been a few antisemitic incidents in recent years across the peninsula. In September 2022, a Far Rockaway man was charged with assault as a hate crime for attacking a Jewish man. In 2019, around Labor Day weekend, there were two incidents of antisemitic messages being scrawled around the peninsula, including at the Silver Gull Beach Club and then in the sand in Belle Harbor.