Ari Ballaban — In Conversation
Statement on Stabbing attack during Chanukah Celebration in Monsey, New York
We emerge from our Sabbath once again horrified by a violent attack against Jews, this time during a Chanukah celebration at a Rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York. After the suspect was chased from the home, he reportedly tried to enter a synagogue nearby but was blocked by people inside who had barricaded the door. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling it an act of domestic terrorism. Two of the victims are in critical condition, and the other three were treated and released from the hospital. We send prayers of healing to those injured and to their families. We appreciate law enforcement’s quick action in arresting the suspect.
This assault is the latest in a disturbing string of violent attacks against members of New York’s Jewish community. And, it stands as the fourth violent attack on a Jewish gathering in fourteen months. Three of the four attacks targeted Jews as they were simply practicing their religion.
As we consider these sobering facts, let’s also remember that antisemitism is not a “Jewish problem.” It is a societal problem, just as an attack on Jews praying is not just an attack on Jews alone, but an assault on our American right to religious freedom. This is why we are so grateful for leaders across the political spectrum and throughout our civil society who have spoken out strongly against antisemitism and all forms of hatred. As Bernice King said in the wake of this attack, “I encourage us all to refuse to adjust to antisemitic stereotypes and to rhetoric/language that dehumanizes. We can’t pretend that hate is dormant.”
We have much work to do to combat antisemitism and all related forms of vile hatred, and we must ensure that no members of our community and no Americans are afraid to gather with their community members to observe their religious traditions. That’s why it is important at this moment for the Jewish community to be aware of the critical work that is already underway to increase the security of our community. Six years ago, Cincinnati was one of America’s first Jewish communities to launch a community-wide security program—SAFE Cincinnati. Since launching SAFE Cincinnati, funded largely by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, we have been able to build a stronger culture of security awareness and strengthen security measures at our Jewish institutions.
Also, let us remember the ancient teaching that Chanukah offers: even the smallest light can triumph over darkness if we have the courage to kindle it. And so all over the world, Jews will proudly light Chanukah candles tonight, just as the Jewish community that came under attack last night did. Because as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive our darkness, only light can do that.”
We encourage all who are interested to join with the Jewish community tonight in celebration of the last night of Chanukah at the Liberty Center menorah lighting in West Chester at 5:30 p.m., organized by the Jewish Discovery Center in Mason.