Just a few weeks ago, we mourned the loss of life after two domestic terrorists gunned down six innocent people in a Kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Last Sunday night, I was honored to stand with Chabad of Armonk, Chappaqua, and Pleasantville, and bless and light the chanukiah in front of the New Castle Community Center. There, I addressed the recent, troubling omens of anti-Semitic hate, and affirmed that we would stand proud and undeterred, committed to bringing more light and warmth into the world.
Not one week later, yet another hateful act of violent, anti-Semitic terror has been perpetrated, this time within our district, in Monsey. The perpetrator, who invaded a Rabbi’s home during an intimate Chanukah celebration, attacked those inside with a knife before others prevented the attack from reaching the next-door synagogue.
I am heartened to see Governor Cuomo, our other State and local leaders, and our first responders standing strong with and protecting our Jewish community.
We should also note that federal laws exist to combat precisely this kind of hate crime. For example, The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, 18 U.S.C. § 249, established stiff federal penalties for those who perpetrate the kinds of hateful, terroristic violence committed last night in Monsey. Under that law, an attempt to kill on the basis of victims’ race or religion is punishable by a lifetime term of federal imprisonment. As a former federal prosecutor, I know that our federal criminal laws and our Department of Justice can offer excellent deterrents to and retributions for the kinds of violence that we are now seeing with troublingly increasing frequency. I hope we will see the use of these formidable tools to meet and defeat these threats to our safety and civil rights.
My grandparents survived the Holocaust; their families were murdered for the crime of being Jewish. We must stand with the victims of this hateful attack and redouble our shared commitment to repairing the world and combatting all forms of hate and terror wherever we encounter them.