(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.
Comedian Who Orchestrated ‘Antisemitic Rally’ is Banned by Top London Theater
A leading London theater has banned the comedian whose show last weekend caused a furor after it turned into what some members of the audience likened to an “antisemitic rally.”
In a statement on Monday, the Soho Theater said that the comedian, Paul Currie, would not be “invited back to perform at our venue.”
During his show last Saturday night, Jewish members of the audience were hounded out of the auditorium by a baying crowd led by Currie — whose mimed show purposefully includes music but no verbal communication with the audience — after one Jewish man, who is an Israeli citizen, refused to stand in tribute to the Palestinian flag which Currie brought on stage.
After the round of applause was over, Currie pointed to the man and quizzed him over why he had remained seated.
The unnamed Israeli man replied, “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.” An infuriated Currie began screaming, “Leave my show now! Get out of my f—-ing show!” in response.
As the man and his partner rose to leave, accompanied by a handful of other shocked audience members, the assembled crowd began chanting “Get out” and “Free Palestine.”
In a written complaint to the theater over his treatment, the man wrote: “Shaken and feeling threatened by the growing antagonism, we exited and tried to complain/get some support from the front-of-house team at the theatre, who were not very sympathetic but did give us an email address to make a complaint. By this time, the show had ended and the audience started exiting, a number of whom were glaring at us aggressively and in a very threatening way. We all left the scene.”
He added: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.”
In its statement disavowing Currie, the Soho Theater noted that “following the end of Paul Currie’s show, ‘Shtoom,’ Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding they leave the theater.”
It continued: “Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever. We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue.”
The theater said that it had met with representatives of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), which has been providing support and advice to the affected audience members, as well as with the police.
In a separate statement, the CAA expressed appreciation for the theater’s decision, confirming that it was still examining legal action against Currie under British anti-discrimination laws.
It said that the theater “has engaged with us positively and swiftly. It is clear that the venue was caught by surprise. The show was supposed to be non-verbal, and had been on previous evenings. Soho Theatre has clearly condemned Paul Currie and confirmed that he will never again perform on their stage. The theatre is cooperating with the police investigation. We will be arranging for senior representatives of the theatre to meet with Jewish members of the audience to talk about what happened.”
The CAA emphasized that it was “continuing to review legal options in respect of Mr Currie and are discussing the matter with members of the audience.”
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Jewish Man Stabbed Six Times During Antisemitic Assault in Paris
Police in Paris have arrested a man over the stabbing of a Jewish man on Monday night by a former friend of the victim who is said to have become “obsessed” with Jews.
According to an eyewitness, the 35-year-old victim, who has not been named, was walking with his partner in the 14th arrondissement of the French capital when they were confronted by the assailant, who was armed with a knife. The assailant was reported to have uttered antisemitic invective before stabbing the man in the back six times.
Police said that the victim was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. Journalists who visited the site of the attack on Tuesday reported that blood stains still remained on the sidewalk outside the launderette where the stabbing took place.
According to Le Parisien, a news outlet, the assailant fled down a nearby street after stabbing his victim. He was arrested several hours later at his home address. The paper said that the victim and the assailant had been friendly during childhood and had recently “reconnected,” only for the victim to discover that his former friend has developed an “obsession” with Jews. The victim had already filed a complaint with the police for antisemitic threats and malicious phone calls from the assailant.
Residents and traders in the area where the attack took place expressed their shock. “The world has gone crazy,” one fruit stall holder told Le Parisien. “Most of the time here, it’s quiet. Everybody knows each other.”
In a statement posted to X/Twitter, the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) said it was “deeply shocked” by the attack.
“All our thoughts are with the victim, to whom we wish a speedy recovery,” the UEJF said.
Antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed in France since the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel.
Last month, the French-Jewish umbrella organization Crif disclosed that 1676 antisemitic incidents had been recorded in 2023 — four times the number registered during the previous year and an unprecedented record.
While in past years the majority of the incidents involved vandalism of property, in 2023, 58 percent of the incidents recorded were directed against people, with 13 percent occurring in schools.
The Oct. 7 atrocities had “acted like a catalyst for hatred by activating latent antisemitism,” Crif president Yonathan Arfi said.
The post Jewish Man Stabbed Six Times During Antisemitic Assault in Paris first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
An Israeli Baseball Star Inspires Our Community, and Unites All Jews
The Jewish sports world is abuzz after Assaf Lowengart signed with the New York Boulders of the independent Frontier League, making him the first Israeli-born position player to sign a professional baseball contract in the US. Lowengart signed on Feb. 9, and the local Jewish community of Rockland has already wholeheartedly embraced him.
The support Lowengart has felt from the Jewish community is one reason he is looking forward to joining the Boulders, who play in a county where roughly a third of the residents are Jewish, many of them Orthodox … “Being able to come back there with the big Jewish community, it’s going to be pretty amazing,” Lowengart said. “I’ve been in many colleges, and the Jewish communities usually weren’t that big. So it’s going to be a pretty cool experience being connected to the Jewish community this time, having them behind me, having them support me and being able to contribute back to them.”
This “pretty amazing” support of the heavily Orthodox local community for the secular and nonobservant Lowengart is a masterclass of the Jewish unity — or achdut — that we need so desperately. We’ve seen such achdut, with Israel at war; secular and religious, left and right have connected on the basis of their shared Jewishness as opposed to harping on their differences.
Admittedly, the Boulders are not the Yankees or the Mets; Rockland’s Jewish community is excited to have Lowengart in their county not because he’s a celebrity, but because he’s their brother. That some of these fans may be of a different religious strata than Assaf is of no consequence here, proving the phrase from the Shabbat prayer yekum purkan is alive and well: “kol yisrael achehem” — “all Jews are brothers!”
Rockland’s Jews are continuing a tradition of achdut and baseball. Shtetl Jews who immigrated to America in the early 20th century were known to support Jewish ballplayers with fierce attachment. Some didn’t understand or even like baseball, but if a Jew was in the lineup, they would go to support him. This came to a head in 1923, when the New York Giants baseball team had a problem. The cross-town Bronx squad, the Yankees, had Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, whose towering home runs drew fans, ticket sales, and wins away from the Giants.
How to get fans and victory back to the Polo Grounds? Giants manager John McGraw explained: “We appreciate that many of the fans in New York are Jews, and we have been trying to land a prospect of Jewish blood.” They signed Mose Solomon, who set the minor league home run record that year, billed as “The Rabbi of Swat,” to compete with Ruth. And in his first week as a Giant, the plan was working as Mose batted .375 and drew tremendous crowds of Jews coming to see him. But that was it: one week, and Solomon was gone from the Majors forever, as his terrible fielding made him a liability. The Yankees went on to win their first World Series that year, have dominated the game ever since, and ran the Giants out of town to San Francisco.
But the Jews who came to watch Solomon in the two games he appeared in didn’t care that he was a clumsy outfielder. He was a fellow Jew. We wish Assaf Lowengart better luck on the field than Mose, and continued Jewish solidarity, love, and support.
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