A rabbi whose Hebrew school students were accosted by a man during a Rosh Hashanah ceremony in Northport has asked for police presence next year.
Rabbi Ian J. Silverman of the East Northport Jewish Center said pupils were participating in a ceremony Sept.14 involving the casting of bread into water when a man stepped out of his car and began “scolding us about how could we have possibly rejected the Savior,” Silverman said. “He was condemning us for not accepting the ‘Christian Messiah who died for our sins.’ I tried to talk to him, to tell him that he was traumatizing kids but he was talking past me. It was an awful scene. In terms of stopping his behavior, he stopped when he felt like stopping.”
The rabbi said others who witnessed the incident told the man they were going to call police, and that another passerby said that the man’s views didn’t represent the view of others in Northport. The passerby added that he was “Christian, and I would never think to do something of this nature,” the rabbi said. “That was well received.”
The incident wasn’t the first, the rabbi said, which is what prompted him to write to the Northport Village Board of Trustees about police protection in the future. Last year, a woman passing by the same ceremony also shouted several words at them including “you Jews.”
Silverman said Northport has been has been very welcoming to Jewish residents and that police have routinely watched out for the Jewish community, parking police cars near the East Northport center for special events.
“However, I as rabbi, now twice accosted, can no longer leave this experience to chance,” he told the board.
Village trustee Tom Kehoe said, “Religious intolerance in our village and community is un-American and not something that we tolerate or condone. The actions of a few individuals who harassed our Jewish brethren are embarrassing and not indicative of the tenor of Northport’s people.”
The rabbi said the ceremony of casting bread upon water symbolized the casting off the sins of the previous year.