The Brotherhood Synagogue in Gramercy Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
While it happened many miles away from New York City, for Jewish New Yorkers, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting massacre on October 27 hit way too close to home, especially since locally, in the days following, there were reports of anti-Semitic graffiti and other types of vandalism at Jewish houses of worship in Brooklyn.
Many attended a vigil for the victims in Pittsburgh in Union Square shortly after the incident. Others jammed their temples for special Sabbath services that Friday night. Town & Village’s own associate editor, Maria Rocha-Buschel, found herself attending services for the first time in — she admitted — years, and reported that The Brotherhood Synagogue in Gramercy Park was completely packed. Much of the evening’s service was focused on the shootings and Rabbi Daniel Alder read a letter from a congregant who’d grown up near the Tree of Life Synagogue where eleven people were murdered, and knew two of the victims.
East End Temple in Stuyvesant Square Park was also crowded “beyond capacity,” noted a congregant there, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “There was a lot of unity in difficult times,” he added.
By Daniel Alder, Rabbi of the Brotherhood Synagogue
This week I visited with the older children in our religious school to speak with them about the horrific massacre of praying Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Shabbat. They had previously been taught about anti-Semitism in Jewish history and recent anti-Jewish attacks in Israel and in Europe. Now, for the first time, they had to assimilate the very real, virulent form of anti-Semitism here in the United States.
One of the scariest things about today’s rise in anti-Semitism is that it is coming both from the far right and the radical left. From the right, white supremacists and neo-Nazis don’t just consider Jews an enemy, alongside immigrants and people of color, but the ultimate enemy. And from the extreme left, Jews are vilified for their prominence and support of Israel. Anti-Semitism appeals to defiant bigots and proud justice-seeking universalists alike.
The Anti-Defamation League reported a near 60 percent increase increase in harassment, vandalism and assault of Jews and Jewish institutions in 2017. The largest single year increase on record. Synagogues here in our neighborhood need to hire security guards to protect their buildings and congregants on Shabbat and during the week.
Officers of Emergency Service Truck #1, the 13th Precinct, the K9 unit and NYPD retirees who returned for the WTC Remembrance Ceremony along with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison in front of the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street (Photo by William Baker/Courtesy of the PBA of the NYPD)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Officers of the 13th Precinct and residents of Gramercy commemorated the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center this past Sunday.
Officers gathered outside the precinct at 8:30 a.m. and observed a moment of silence at 8:46, the time that the first plane collided with the north tower.
Calvary Church on East 21st Street hosted one service at 11 a.m. on the day of the anniversary and invited Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, to speak about the parish’s partnership with the community in the days and weeks following the attacks.
Teachers pick out books for their schools on March 7 after a book drive was conducted at Brotherhood Synagogue and other locations. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Brotherhood Synagogue, which regularly organizes its congregants in various charitable efforts, has most recently concluded a book drive with Project Cicero, an annual non-profit project that provides reading material to under-resourced public schools.
Lynn Abraham, a member of Brotherhood Synagogue and a board member for Project Cicero, said that as of last week, the synagogue managed to collect 12 boxes of books throughout the past month. By the end of the donation period last Sunday, the total was 17 boxes.
“That’s extraordinary for a synagogue,” she said.
The donation efforts for Project Cicero at the synagogue have been spearheaded by the synagogue’s Social Action Committee member Linda Yee Kaleko, who said that Brotherhood has been involved with the organization for about six years.
“My daughter happened to really love reading and books when she was in high school,” Kaleko said. “Sometimes in the committee we try to come up with new projects and this came up when we were looking for something so it worked out very well.”
Abraham said that since Project Cicero has started in 2001, it has been able to put about three million books back into the public school system.
This holiday season, the Jewish community will have a lot to celebrate due to the rare overlap of two major holidays in what has been coined “Thanksgivukkah.”
This year marks the first time in 125 years that two fall holidays will be happening on the same day: Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of every November, will be on November 28 this year and the first day of Hanukkah, which falls on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, will also be this upcoming Thursday.
The Hebrew calendar is lunar and has fewer days than the solar Gregorian calendar so the former occasionally adds in a month to compensate.