Following a string of potentially anti-Semitic incidents in New York, schools in historically Jewish neighborhoods will launch hate crime awareness programming when classes resume in January.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to teach hate crime prevention in schools in three Brooklyn neighborhoods.
At least eight possibly anti-Semitic attacks occurred in the city in the last week. The most recent attack happened on Saturday night, when a man stabbed five people gathered at a rabbi’s home to mark the seventh night of Hanukkah.
Starting next month, the New York City Department of Education will implement hate crime awareness programming in middle and high schools in the Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park neighborhoods. The three communities have large Jewish populations, according to the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative.
The program will pair participating schools with community partners for anti-hate crime workshops, the mayor’s office said. Permanent curricula on hate crimes will launch in the 2020-2021 school year, available to schools citywide.
Next year’s Respect for All week, an anti-bullying initiative that takes place across city schools every February, will focus on hate crime prevention. The program will examine what forms religious intolerance can take and how to promote inclusion.
Increased police presence and safety coalitions
The classroom initiative is only one of several newly announced measures to curb citywide hate crimes.
The Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will oversee neighborhood safety coalitions in the three Brooklyn neighborhoods, and the New York Police Department will also step up its presence at houses of worship and during local events in the communities, de Blasio’s office said.
“Fearing the next act of terror will not become the new normal for our Jewish neighbors,” de Blasio said. “In New York City, diversity is our strength and we respect the traditions of all who call New York City home. Intolerance will never take hold here.”
The mayor launched the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes in September, reportedly months ahead of schedule, to address a troubling rise in hate crimes.
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced nonpublic schools and cultural centers, including religious institutions, would receive more than $10 million to bolster security. Cuomo called the hate crimes a “cancer” to New York’s diverse population.
A disturbing uptick in hate crimes, anti-Semitic incidents
There have been at least 166 anti-Semitic incidents between January and September of this year, the NYPD reported.
In the string of incidents this month, all of which occurred during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, victims were punched, struck and slapped, some in front of their young children.
Hate crimes were up 43.1% in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, according to the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.
But anti-Semitic incidents are the most common hate crimes reported in the city. From January to September of this year, they made up nearly 54% of all reported hate crime complaints, according to NYPD Crime Statistics.
Most of these crimes don’t involve assault, but acts of vandalism, like graffiti or swastikas scrawled on places like synagogues, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in September, when he was the department’s chief of detectives.