Williamsburg Jews suffered a string of senseless attacks earlier this month, leaving members of the neighborhood’s Orthodox Jewish community fearing for their safety, according to a local rabbi.
“People merely walking on the streets here feel like sitting ducks, worrying that they must look over their shoulder in fear of being hurt because of their faith,” said Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg.
A group of men attacked a 42-year-old man wearing religious garb on Lynch Street near Broadway at 1:15 p.m. on May 4, shouting anti-Semitic slurs, before socking him in the face, according to police.
Three days later, a teenager snuck up behind an Orthodox Jewish man on Marcy Avenue near Rodney Street at 7:03 on May 7, when he brutally sucker punched the man, before fleeing, cops said.
Police arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with the May 7 attack Wednesday morning, charging with him assault as a hate crime, according to police.
Both attacks come at a time when hate crimes citywide are soaring, with 145 hate crimes reported between Jan. 1 and April 30, a 67-percent increase over the 87 reported hate crimes reported during the same period in 2018.
Of those, more than half targeted Jews in the first quarter of both 2018 and 2019, with 82 attacks against Jewish New Yorker’s this year alone.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo chimed in to condemn the attacks, and offered the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force state resources to help track down the culprits.
“This abhorrent act of hate-fueled violence is deeply disturbing, especially in the wake of a reported spike in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents over the past year,” Cuomo said.
The rise in hate crimes occurs during an outbreak of the deadly measles virus in Brooklyn, which has largely been confined to Williasmburg’s Orthodox Jewish community, and has infected more than 460 people borough-wide.
In April, a Jewish man accused an MTA bus driver of attempting to refuse him service on the B57 line in Williamsburg, and then shouting about the measles after he was able to run down and board the bus.