Jewish New Yorkers respond to ‘Day of Hate’ with prayers for peace

Threats of a national day of antisemitic hate sent Elizabeth Walsh to pray Saturday in her Upper East Side, Manhattan synagogue.

“I think it’s terrible, so I came to pray for peace,” the 66-year-old woman said at Temple Emanu-El on E. 65th St. “Pray for the people that have supported this day of hate, so that they could see that this is just as hateful for them, and for their own people ... It’s a disease.”

Gov. Hochul, speaking at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Midtown Manhattan, fired back against the plans announced on social media by anonymous organizers for an antisemitic “National Day of Hate.”

“I will stand up against hate, and stand with the people of this state,” said Hochul. “And so, you are not alone ... There are 20 million New Yorkers who are with you today and every day as we stand up and call out antisemitism and racism and homophobia and all the other isms.”

The NYPD increased patrols at synagogues and other “sensitive locations” in response to the threats. Police asked New Yorkers to “remain vigilant” and call the NYPD if they see anything suspicious, although no specific threats were identified in the five boroughs.

Synagogue member Dennis Ehrich responded by attending an outdoor service at Temple Emanu-El on a frosty February morning.

“I think we’re in an era now where there’s permissiveness around antisemitism,” he said. “What’s going on in this country is despicable. And I think that today, what the rabbi has intended is to just have us show that we continue to be committed to our faith despite all of the noise around us.”

Hillary Barr, 63, spoke outside the Fifth Avenue Synagogue on E. 67th St. after a Saturday service and said she hung an Israeli flag outside her window in a show of ethnic pride.

“So that everybody coming off the 59th St. Bridge and on the tram, and any of these crazy haters, can see we’re proud and strong,” she explained. “Nobody’s going to scare us. Nobody’s going to keep up away from our synagogue. They’re big cowards.”

Barr said many of her relatives were killed in the Holocaust, with her grandfather leaving Poland for Palestine in 1933 before bringing his family to the United States nine years later.

“They don’t affect us, because we’re all about love and they’re all about hate,” she said of those behind the announced day of anti-Semitism. “It doesn’t belong in our synagogue.”

Walsh, who joined the congregation in 1994, recalled her recently-deceased 96-year-old mother fleeing Germany prior to the Holocaust as hatred for the Jews exploded there.

“She said that the biggest disease is hatred and antisemitism,” said Walsh. “This is detrimental, what’s going on today? And it’s frightening.”