By Tyler Barth
Not here, not now, not ever.
“We will not tolerate even one shard of broken glass, not one,” Morris County Freeholder John Krickus said Thursday at a “Rally Against Hate” at Gottesman RTW Academy, a Jewish school in Randolph.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joined officials, clergy and members of the public at the event, organized by Morris Sheriff James Gannon in response to recent anti-Semitic violence in Jersey City, New York State and across the country.
“Obviously, the safety of all people in Morris County is our priority in life, and foremost, in the minds of everyone here,” Gannon said.
Last month two attackers killed a Jersey City policeman then murdered three civilians in a kosher grocery store before being shot dead by police. In Monsey, NY, a man stormed a rabbi’s home with a machete, injuring five before being taken into custody.
On Dec. 26, 2019, a menorah in Mendham Borough was toppled over.
No suspects have been arrested in that incident, which Grewal said was inspired by rising hate crimes in New Jersey and nationwide.
According to the attorney general, there were 549 instances of hate-related violence statewide in 2017 and 516 in 2018. In the first three quarters of 2019, more than 700 instances were reported.
“We in law enforcement need to prosecute all of these cases to the fullest extent of the law,” Grewal said.
Other speakers included Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-25th Dist.), both via video, and Morris Prosecutor Fredric Knapp.
“As a member of the Jewish community, and county Prosecutor, I am deeply concerned about recent acts of anti-Semitism,” said Knapp.
“We stand together as a united force to protect all residents of Morris County, and to prosecute those who would attack anyone because of their religion, race, national origin, gender or any other classification. If you see or hear of a bias incident, please report to law enforcement. Our office is here 24/7,” the prosecutor said.
A shuttle bused participants from the nearby campus of the County College of Morris. Some 350 people attended, according to the Morris Freeholders’ estimate. The Prosecutor’s Office pegged the figure at 200.
The academy choir sang the American and Israeli national anthems to start the program.
Clergy members included Basel Hamdeh of Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton, Rev. Herman Scott of Calvary Baptist Church in Morristown, Chandu Bhoraniya of Swaminarayan Mandir in Parsippany, and Rabbi Mendy Herson of the Rabbinical College of New Jersey in Morris Township.
Gottesman RTW Academy Head of School Moshe Vaknin, Rabbi Levi Dubinsky of the Chabad Center of Northwest New Jersey, and Freeholder Deborah Smith also spoke.
“All of our residents must be able to live their lives in our county, state and nation without fear of being harassed or persecuted for their personal and religious beliefs. That is a basic tenet of our democracy. Nothing is more sacred in America,” Smith said.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about the vandalism in Mendham to call 973-COP-CALL or visit this CrimeStoppers website. Tips can be made anonymously.