New York News

Local Religious Leaders Decry Anti-Semitism

Local officials and Jewish and Catholic leaders–including Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, Rabbi Eliseo D. Rozenwasser, and Msgr. Joseph Grimaldi, pastor of St. Bernard Parish–came together for the annual Thanksgiving ecumenical service held last November at St. Bernard Clairvaux Parish, Bergen Beach. (Photo: courtesy of Thomas Sorrentino)

NEW YORK — In another sign of solidarity with the Jewish community of New York, local religious leaders — including some from the Diocese of Brooklyn — have issued a statement condemning the spate of anti-Semitic attacks that hit the New York City area late last year during Hanukkah.

The statement, released earlier this month, came after a solidarity march from Manhattan to Brooklyn in January, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised the state will spend $45 million to better protect religious schools and institutions.

“As a community of like-minded people, a community of people who although may worship under different religions [and who] come from varied races, ethnicities, cultures and lifestyles and who may have different political views, we all share the same basic and undeniable right to be allowed to live our lives in an environment of tolerance and mutual respect for each other,” the February interfaith statement read.

“We can all be victims of that kind of vicious attack, so making a strong statement like this is important,” said Rabbi Eliseo D. Rozenwasser of Temple Sholom of Flatbush.

Msgr. David L. Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius Church, Bensonhurst; Msgr. Steven J. Aguggia, the diocese’s chancellor; and Msgr. Jamie J. Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Williamsburg, were among those who signed the declaration.

The statement also called out incidents at Catholic churches, such as one in which graffiti was spray-painted on the property of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and its school in Bayside, and another in which a statue was vandalized at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Thomas Sorrentino, a community organizer and parishioner at St. Bernard Clairvaux Parish, Mill Basin, wrote the statement with the help of several Jewish rabbis and Catholic priests.

“We all saw the same things and needed to say something about it,” Sorrentino said. “No matter who you are, whether you’re an elected official, a religious leader, or just Joe Citizen, everyone wants to be respected and tolerated.”

“It’s a great sign to see people of different faiths come together and stand side by side. When one of us is attacked, we’re all attacked,” Msgr. Gigantiello said. “There are many communities in our diocese where politicians and the church can work together. We’re not always at odds, even when we disagree on certain issues.”