GLEN COVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of Jewish centers have been targeted with threats since January, and the surge of hate crimes and threats prompted the president’s first remarks on the subject Tuesday.
Teaching painful lessons of the past to their granddaughter, the Goodmans toured Nassau County’s Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center amid a nationwide uptick in antisemitism.
“Every day there is something, either with a Jewish center or some other place where they’re threatening with bombs, or on houses where they put the Nazi symbol,” Sharon Goodman, a retired Holocaust teacher, told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
“I’m seeing an undercurrent of hate in the United States,” her husband, Paul, added.
President Donald Trump broke his silence on the subject after a dozen new bomb threat were made against Jewish community centers across the country and hundreds of Jewish headstones were toppled in a St. Louis cemetery.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” he said after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
His remarks were welcomed in a place filled with the tragic images of what happens when bigotry goes unchecked. Holocaust Center officials said anti-Semitic incidents in New York City have doubled since this time last year.
“What this country needs is a strong and funded Holocaust mandate in our education system,” Beth Lilach said.
Four waves of bomb threats prompted a tweet from Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism.
“America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers,” the first daughter posted.
In kosher markets, synagogues and community centers on Long Island, New Yorkers said they will be vigilant but not deterred.
“I don’t think it would change the way I conduct myself or do business, because that would let them win,” one woman said.
Nassau police said they are responding to the national climate.
“What we’ve done for many, many months is upped our enforcement and intensified our patrols around any type of religious institution,” Lt. Richard LeBrun said.
Jewish leaders Tuesday called for a federal task force to find the culprit behind the wave of threats and called on Trump to not only comment on the subject but take the lead.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions which read in part, “Jewish institutions have, for many years, been spending millions of dollars a year to protect our Houses of Worship, Community Centers, Kindergartens and Jewish Schools from attacks from extremists… While we appreciate the efforts made by law enforcement to protect people of all faiths… given the current circumstances … the Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging you to create a special taskforce with the assignment of identifying and capturing the culprit or culprits who seek to terrorize American Jewry through their threats.”
The JCC Association of North American reported that 54 Jewish community centers have faced 69 threats since the beginning of the year.