CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — Last month, Lincoln Terrace Park in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was a crime scene after a suspected anti-Semitic attack on Rabbi Abraham Gopin.
But Rabbi Gopin – who suffered a broken nose and lost two front teeth when he was attacked with a large paver stone – returned to the park Wednesday evening, and took the stage to blow the shofar just days before the start of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be scared," he said. "We have to overcome. I am not afraid. I'm more careful; I'm watching. But to be struck by fear? Never. Never."
It was a show of faith, strength and solidarity: a rally to unite the Jewish community in the wake of recent anti-Semitic crimes.
The number of anti-Semitic crimes in New York City has increased dramatically year to date, from 100 to 156 recorded incidents.
Liel Leibovitz of Tablet magazine helped organize the solidarity rally.
"The most important thing to remember, is anti-Semitism targets Jews, but as soon as any one of us, as soon as one minority in our community is targeted, we're all targeted.
Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA Federation of New York, added, “No community should have to live in fear like this. To be targeted because you're identifiably Jewish is just an abhorrent way to have to live and we have to stop it."
Crown Heights resident Wilma Joseph watched the rally from one of the park benches.
"It doesn't make any sense, ya know? We're all flesh. We're all one people regardless of race, background. We're still one people," Joseph said. "That was useless what that guy did and I think it's a good idea to bring the community together."