I was part of an event at the JCC in West Nyack this week that, I’m proud to say, was a testament to the diversity and unity of Rockland County.
I joined other community leaders to show our support of the JCC at a time when attacks on similar organizations throughout the nation are on the rise.
When one group in our county or our nation is under attack, we are all under attack.
We all know that nationwide there has been an increase in both anti-Semitism and hate crimes against other groups.
Unfortunately, we have felt that rise in hate here in Rockland County.
We stood together with our neighbors when homes of two rabbis in New City were attacked. We stood together with our neighbors when a person filled with hate killed 49 people at a nightclub in Florida catering to the LGBT community. We have spoken out against hateful graffiti.
And again this week, we showed the value of unity in the face of threats to Jewish institutions nationwide.
Many people came to show support for the Rockland JCC.
Leaders from Rockland’s Muslim community were there. So were members of our Interfaith Council, our acting Commissioner of Human Rights, representatives of the LGBT community and so many others who make up our diverse population.
There was a strong bi-partisan showing of elected officials, including Rockland Legislative Chairman Toney Earl and other members of the Legislature.
Representatives from every level of government showed their support.
Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann who has long been an advocate for the JCC, which is located in his town, said town police were doing everything possible to keep the JCC safe.
There were also promises of support from our local members of the state Assembly and Senate, as well as our representatives in Congress and Governor Cuomo.
The governor has asked the Department of Homeland Security to provide assistance to Jewish Community Centers.
County officials have reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and once applications are available I assure you that we will be aggressive about going after those funds.
The threat is real.
Bomb threats have been made at several Jewish Community Centers in Westchester.
But, luckily, not here. At least not yet.
We hope that day never comes. But if it does, we want everyone to know that we are ready.
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco who was at the JCC outlined some of the measures being taken to make sure the West Nyack facility and others like in in our community are being protected. Acting Clarkstown P.D. Chief Bob Mahon was on hand too, detailing the efforts of his Department.
We watched bomb-detecting dogs sniff out explosives that had been planted at the JCC. We also saw a demonstration of a device that can detect higher than normal radiation levels.
The dogs are great and the gadgets can help detect threats.
But what it really comes down to is reminding people to be alert – to keep their eyes open.
Remember, “If you see something, say something.”
Through increased vigilance and the combined efforts of law enforcement, we will keep the JCC and institutions like in in Rockland safe.