Lawmakers and state leaders joined members of the Jewish community at a vigil in West Hartford Monday evening, in solidarity with the victims of a stabbing attack in New York.
Federal prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a man who’s accused of wounding five people at a Hanukkah celebration at the home of a rabbi in the town of Monsey on Saturday.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford organized the vigil at Beth El Temple on Monday. They were joined by Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Rep. John Larson and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, as well as Connecticut treasurer Shawn Wooden and state lawmakers.
Dozens of local residents, both Jewish and those of other faiths, attended. For David Silver, who worships at Beth El, being around others rather than trying to process the tragedy alone made a difference.
“It was a great feeling just to see the support of other faiths,” he said. “I think a lot of us are kind of dismayed about what’s going on, looking for reasons, looking for support, and the support that we’re getting right now from the other faith communities is really tremendous.”
“The Monsey attack was a horrific display of anti-Semitism,” said Bysiewicz. “I’m deeply disturbed by this latest in a long line of assaults against Jewish communities across the globe. It’s up to all of us to stand together as Americans to condemn this hate and fight to protect our neighbors from these vicious acts of violence.”
“Thank you all for opening your hearts. I feel like I want to hug every one of you,” Blumenthal said. “What came to mind last night was the shock and horror of that brutal home invasion on the seventh night. A special kind of terror inflicted on that family that reflected not just a single incident of hatred but a surge of anti-Semitism around this great nation.”
"The attacker does not define how we celebrate and live our lives and to the work that we do," State Senator Saud Anwar told the crowd. "We will not let somebody else define how we pray, how we celebrate."
Meanwhile, Connecticut State Police stationed patrol cars and officers in the neighborhoods of Jewish places of worship and community centers. Brian Foley, a spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management, said the aim is to make people feel safe and protected.
“There was no known threat in the state of Connecticut here,” he told Connecticut Public Radio, “but the worst thing we can have is people that actually have to worship and fear, and we don’t want that.”
He also urged members of the community to remain vigilant.
“This is unfortunately the new reality,” Foley said. “As law enforcement leaders our message to people is if you see something, say something. We always want people to give us that tip. Just give us that head start to help maybe thwart and prevent these things from ever happening in the first place.”