A week after swastikas were spray painted on the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst libraries and Congregation Tifereth Israel, one Jewish school decided to protest the vandalism.
Over 100 students from Rambam Mesivta in Nassau County stood outside the Jackson Heights library with posters and signs, screaming chants of “books not bias” and “an attack on a wall is an attack on us all.”
“It gave me such a bad feeling in my heart,” said 17-year-old senior Daniel Sobin. “It really makes you want to vomit.”
Another student, Michael Rosenfeld, 16, said he was “appalled.”
Rabbi Ernest Mayerfeld, who is the rabbi of the synagogue that got vandalized felt personally “humiliated.”
“I felt very badly for our block,” Mayerfeld said, joining the protesters later.
There are no suspects in the case and there is a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest.
After the students were finished protesting, with the permission of branch manager Wei-Qing Dei, they walked inside the library where he and the assistant principal of the school, Hillel Goldman, spoke out against the vandalism.
“All our community, customers and staff feel very upset and very unhappy,” Dei said. “We hope it will be stopped forever.”
Goldman pointed out that synagogues are not the only ones vulnerable to religious attacks.
“It can happen on a church, a mosque,” Goldman said.
“We feel an attack on a library or a religious institution is an attack on all Americans,” he added.
Goldman also gave a brief talk about how closely the swastika painting fell on the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, which translates to “Night of Broken Glass.” During the night from November 9-10 in 1938, Nazi soldiers destroyed Jewish homes and businesses, what many consider the beginning of the Holocaust.
The school then presented the library with five unopened copies of the history book, “The Holocaust Chronicle,” by John Roth.
Students left the library, where they proceeded to march in silence to the home of 88-year-old convicted Nazi collaborator Yakiv Palij on 89th Street.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) spoke out against Palij outside his home.
“It’s really important to shed light on this situation that we have a Nazi living in the neighborhood,” he said. “He needs to leave. He should get out and go somewhere else.”
Rosenfeld, whose family survived the Holocaust, was angered to find out that a Nazi collaborator was living in the New York area.
“Everyone knows he’s a Nazi and no one’s doing anything about it,” he said.
Attempts to reach Palij were unsuccessful.