May 24, 2021 Article / World Jewish News

by Ben Susser

A press conference today was held in front of the Chase Bank at 1811 Broadway to call attention to and condemn the recent attacks on visibly Jewish New Yorkers.

Addressing the media were Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group and Rabbi Mendel Steiner, a victim of a recent attack. Friedlander, in his opening remarks said “I am calling upon the Federal Government to investigate this and other incidents as a possible violation of civil rights and am asking that the Federal Government investigate and prosecute these crimes under the Federal Civil Rights Statutes. It is crucial to prosecute these crimes as such to augment local low enforcement efforts.”

Last Friday, Rabbi Mendel Steiner was simply trying to get to work when he was accosted by a man on a bike near the Times Square Subway Station, out of which he had just emerged. Though he was well aware of and worried somewhat about the antisemitic rhetoric, threats and violence which have engulfed New York City in recent weeks as a reaction to the latest chapter of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he did not think it could happen to him. After all, he was not in the area of Midtown where most visibly Jewish people who work in that area are, up near 47th Street.

The violence literally knows no boundaries. As Rabbi Steiner ascended the stairs from the subway station, speaking on the phone, he was approached by a man on a bike, who immediately started insulting him, screaming at him, and attempting to block his path with his bike. The individual threatened Rabbi Steiner physically, and after he said “You killed my Palestinian children, and I’m going to kill you,” Rabbi Steiner ran into the nearest Chase Bank, having been unable to find any NYPD officer or private security guards that permeate the garment district/Times Square district. The bank is located at 39th Street and Broadway, and Rabbi Steiner sought refuge there. Thankfully, bank employees were sympathetic and protected him as the assailant followed Rabbi Steiner into the bank and even rode his bike through the bank to try to get to Rabbi Steiner.

However, the ordeal was not over, as after 911 was called, no one responded to the call. Times Square is known as the “Crossroads of the World,” and is considered New York’s Crown Jewel. Yet, it took hours for the police to respond, and Rabbi Steiner was no longer at the bank. The Chase employees gave the officers Rabbi Steiner’s contact information. They have yet to follow up with him.

The stunning neglect by the NYPD to follow up on such a heinous and public hate crime is what brought Rabbi Steiner and Ezra Friedlander back to the scene of the crime today to call for a federal investigation into this attack, and other similar attacks. The NYPD and New York justice system have proven themselves incapable of adequately protecting their own visibly Jewish population. Those who are visibly Jewish have the right to live in peace in their own city, and should not have to go to the press to persuade the NYPD and Federal Agents to take their concerns seriously, but alas, here we are. 

The press conference was coordinated by community activist, Ushi Teitelbaum.

(L) Rabbi Mendel Steiner, (c) Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group  (R) Ushi Teitelbaum




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