(New York Jewish Week) – After Aaron Dahan, the owner of a New York City cafe chain, saw his fifth employee quit in recent weeks due to Dahan’s public support for Israel, he decided to close his Upper East Side location for the day.
Two baristas had shown up at the Caffe Aronne branch on Lexington Avenue and 71st Street wearing pro-Palestinian pins on their aprons on Tuesday morning, leading to a dispute with the manager. One of the employees quit on the spot.
Dahan was catering a private event and unable to come to the shop, so he told his mother, Peggy, that the store was closing. She decided to keep the doors open, heading to the cafe herself and putting out a call for volunteers to join her.
“I just came,” Peggy Dahan said. “I learned how to use the cash register. I learned how to pour a cold brew and use the espresso machines.”
She wasn’t alone: Friends and family, including Peggy’s daughter’s friends and her assistant, who had with barista experience, showed up to keep the shop running. So did hundreds of customers, who formed a line spilling around the block as a demonstration of their own support for Israel — and repudiation of those who would oppose it.
“When I got on the line, part of me was so upset that we have to do this to show other Jews that we support them,” said Danielle Posner, a first-time customer who went to the cafe after a friend sent her a message about what was going on. “And part of me was so overwhelmed with joy that we came together so quickly as a people.”
Some in the crowd carried Israeli flags, and others put up posters of Israeli hostages on a street pole, adding to the fliers scattered around the neighborhood – some intact, others torn or defaced with graffiti.
The cafe joins a handful of other restaurants that have seen business surge amid concerns that they were suffering because of their support for Israel. On Long Island, for example, a Greek diner has become a hotspot for pro-Israel diners after initially seeing traffic drop off after the owner hung hostage posters. There, too, social media appeals have driven a flurry of new customers concerned about the fallout from the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and surging antisemitism in the United States.
Aaron Dahan, a 25-year-old graduate of the city’s Orthodox Ramaz School, said his trouble had started last month when he began raising money for Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency services provider, in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack.
The Upper East Side location also has posters of kidnapped Israelis taped to the front window, and miniature Israeli and American flags stand by the register. Peggy Dahan said her husband’s step-cousin was killed in the Hamas attack.
“Our staff was not for it,” Aaron Dahan said of the chain’s support for Israel, describing much of the staff as progressive students from local colleges, where criticism of Israel has been prominent since Oct. 7. “They think that we’re supporting genocide, that we’re supporting colonialism.”
Across the chain’s three locations, five staffers quit over the course of several weeks, with the latest resignation on Tuesday proving too much to keep operations running at the chain’s Upper East Side location. (It also has outposts in the West Village and on the High Line, as well as a catering truck.)
Dahan said he had tried to discuss the conflict with staff over dinner, telling them, “Let’s realize that we’re not all here trying to kill each other.” But it wasn’t enough to head off frustrations.
“I wish it would’ve never happened,” he added about the staff fissures, adding, “We had a beautiful family, a really great team. It’s sad, you make a lot of friends and it’s just all gone over this.”
The appeal for help on Tuesday quickly ricocheted around the city’s pro-Israel and Jewish community. Posts about the cafe were widely shared on social media and the WhatsApp messaging platform, drawing crowds to the shop. Peggy Dahan said that, as she struggled to keep the store open, she received messages of support from strangers telling her, “We’re coming.”
Some of the volunteers who came in to work had previous experience as baristas, she said, while others were learning on the job, as she was. Customers offered referrals for baristas who would be willing to work for the chain.
Many of the customers who came in contributed to the store’s fundraising efforts for Magen David Adom, bringing in cash for the effort. The company had intended to buy the medics a $36,000 “medicycle,” a modified motorcycle used to rush to emergencies. Now, Peggy Dahan said, Caffe Aronne hoped to buy two of the vehicles.
“This is a complete community thing,” she said. “It just shows what a great and amazing community we have.”
Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime
Multiple public menorahs in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York were stolen and vandalized, according to a spokesman for the Chabad Jewish movement.
The stolen menorah was seen on Sunset Park Center lawn on Wednesday evening, according to Yaacov Behrman, a spokesperson for Chabad. On Thursday, it was found broken.
In a separate incident captured on video, a man is seen riding up to a menorah in Sunset Park on a bicycle and pushing it over.
“The holiday hasn’t begun, and the vandalism has already started,” Behrman said on X/Twitter.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is investigating the incidents as hate crimes.
The post Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
More than 500 staffers of Jewish groups, most of them progressive, appeal to Biden to press for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hundreds of staffers for 140 Jewish organizations, most of them progressive, signed a letter to President Joe Biden and Congress urging them to press Israel to agree to a ceasefire in its war with Hamas, citing their work “building thriving Jewish communities.”
The letter, which does not necessarily reflect the views of the signatories’ employers, is the latest sign that differences among American Jews regarding Israel’s response to Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 invasion are becoming more public and pronounced. A number of Jewish Congress members now back a ceasefire, after having initially presented a unanimous voice in support of Biden’s backing for Israel.
“We are individuals who work for a wide array of Jewish organizations across the United States, coming together across the broad range of beliefs, practices, backgrounds and identities that make up the rich fabric of the American Jewish community,” said the letter, first reported Thursday by NBC.
“We are uniting together in this moment to call for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and a commitment towards a long-term political solution that ensures the freedom and collective safety of Israelis and Palestinians,” the letter said.
The letter comes just weeks after a mass pro-Israel rally on the National Mall, during which speakers enthusiastically endorsed Israel’s refusal to halt its military campaign until Hamas is dismantled and all the hostages it abducted on Oct. 7 are returned home. Hamas released more than 100 hostages in exchange for hundreds of security prisoners during a seven-day ceasefire that ended last week
The letter suggests to the president that the vocal Jewish groups that have opposed the war are also representative of a wide swath of American Jews. Biden prides himself on being attuned to Jewish sensibilities; he has cited his decades of closeness to Israel and to the American Jewish community in resisting calls from the left to press Israel into a ceasefire.
“As a group of professionals from a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations, many of us have devoted our life’s work to building thriving Jewish communities,” said the letter. “Our organizations may or may not join the call for a ceasefire themselves, but we feel moved to speak as individuals to demonstrate broad support within the Jewish community for a ceasefire.”
Most of the organizations listed as affiliates of the signatories are on the left of the political spectrum, among them Bend the Arc, Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, and Workers Circle and its affiliates, all of them social justice advocacy groups. Some of the social justice groups themselves have not endorsed a ceasefire, in part because their focus is on domestic issues. (A Boston spinoff of Workers Circle is an exception, and so is JFREJ.)
There are also staffers from the two leading groups that have mobilized Jewish opposition to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and backed a ceasefire: IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which is anti-Zionist. Left-wing activists point to Tthe visible presence of activists for these groups at antiwar protests to assert that there is Jewish backing for a ceasefire.
But some of the signatories come from groups focused on Israel that have opposed a ceasefire, including J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. But in another sign of shifting sentiments, J Street said in a press release Thursday that it was reconsidering its position on the war.
There are also staffers for synagogues, some but not all known for their liberal outlook, that have not taken a position on a ceasefire.
More than 80 of the staffers signing asked for anonymity but listed their employers, which include mainstream groups that have backed Israel’s war effort, among them the Reform and Conservative movements. The list includes three anonymous staffers for UJA-Federation of New York, which has raised millions for Israel during the war.
“I signed this letter because all decisions at this fragile moment must be made with lasting peace and safety in mind for all people in the region,” the group’s press release quoted one of the unnamed UJA staffers as saying. “I call on President Biden to take immediate action for a permanent ceasefire, release of all hostages, and a just resolution to this brutal war.”
Heather Booth, a consultant for Jewish groups who did not sign the letter, urged the mainstream Jewish groups employing some of the signatories not to retaliate.
“Those who have signed the letter are responding to their values,” Booth told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We may or may not agree with what they’re signing and saying and I didn’t sign this myself for many reasons. But I support their right to share their passionate commitment to their values.And it’s a sign of these times at some on the list fear retribution for signing.”
In a press release, a Boston-area rabbi said her support for a ceasefire stemmed in part from her revulsion from Hamas.
“For the sake of defeating the insidious ideology of Hamas, for the sake of returning all of the hostages to their homes, for the sake of the wellbeing of all of the Israelis and Palestinians caught up in this war, I urge the Biden administration to do all it can to bring about a ceasefire as a first step to a lasting, political solution to the conflict,” said Rabbi Tovah Spitzer of Dorsey Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Newton.
The letter comes as a number of Jewish Democrats in Congress have in recent days called for a ceasefire, or have called for restrictions on emergency aid Biden has requested for Israel that has yet to be approved. One of the Democrats, Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont, made a statement in support of the letter.
“Thousands of Palestinians, including thousands of children, have been killed. Many more have been displaced, without water, food, medical supplies, and fuel,” she said. “This is inhumane. What is needed is a negotiated bilateral ceasefire that ensures the release of all hostages and paves a path toward peace, security and safety for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Hamas killed more than 1,200 people and wounded thousands on Oct. 7, most of them civilians. Since Israel launched counterstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry has reported that some 17,000 people have been killed, including thousands of children. What portion of that number are combatants, and what portion were killed by misfired rockets aimed at Israel, is not known. Israel has estimated that twice as many civilians as militants have died in its counteroffensive.
Shots fired fired at Albany synagogue with preschool, suspect in custody
(New York Jewish Week) — Shots were fired at Temple Israel in Albany on Thursday, the first night of Hanukkah, as U.S. Jews grapple with a surge in antisemitism following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the Israeli military’s military campaign in Gaza.
There were no injuries in the shooting on the premises of the Conservative synagogue in New York’s capital, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement, adding that she had spoken with the congregation’s rabbi. She said in a press briefing, however, that the synagogue has an on-site early learning center, “with at least two dozen children, preschoolers, who were on the premises.” She added that the facility went into lockdown but that all children have been released safely to their parents.
A 28-year-old male is in custody, said Hochul’s press secretary, Avi Small.
The suspect shouted “Free Palestine” during the incident, Albany’s Times Union reported, citing police and another source.
Hochul said she had directed the New York State Police and the state’s national guard to be on high alert and step up patrols of at-risk sites for Hanukkah, such as synagogues, yeshivas and community centers throughout the state — including New York City, which is home to the largest Jewish population in the United States.
“Any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining public safety at a synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable,” Hochul said. “We reject hate, antisemitism and violence in all forms.”
Hochul visited the synagogue on Oct. 7 in a show of solidarity amid Hamas’ attack.
The governor said that, following Thursday’s incident, she contacted Temple Israel’s Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson, and “assured her that the state of New York will do everything possible to restore the sense of security her congregation needs at this time,” adding that she plans to attend Shabbat services there this Friday evening.
In the briefing, Hochul noted that the synagogue had been one of several targeted with bomb threats in September.
There was no immediate public comment on the incident from the synagogue or the Albany police department.
Law enforcement and Jewish community security groups have reported a surge in antisemitism since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
In New York City, the NYPD reported 62 antisemitic hate crimes last month and 69 attacks in October, a steep increase. Anti-Jewish incidents made up 65% of all hate crimes reported to police last month. There is no comparable data available for antisemitic hate crimes in upstate New York.
Synagogues and other Jewish institutions have been targeted in the wave of hate crimes. On Friday, bomb threats were made against 15 synagogues in New York State, including five in upstate areas.
The threats were made as part of a campaign intended to interrupt synagogue operations by forcing law enforcement to go to a location, and there did not appear to be any actual danger to the targets, said the director of the Jewish security group the Community Security Initiative, Mitch Silber.
“The bottom line is this: The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is non-negotiable,” Hochul said in the briefing. “Every act, whether it’s verbal or physical, any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining the public safety at our synagogue, on the first night of Hanukkah, is even more deplorable.”
“I remind everyone: As New Yorkers, this is not who we are. This must stop, ” she added. “We reject hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia. All hate crimes must stop, and all violence in every form must cease. We have no tolerance for these acts of evil that have now permeated our society.”
Ahead of questions, the briefing concluded with the lighting of Hanukkah candles, led by Eva Wyner, the state’s deputy director of Jewish affairs.
The post Shots fired fired at Albany synagogue with preschool, suspect in custody appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.