This past Shabbos morning, at 9:06 a.m., per the shul’s CCTV, a passenger in a filthy, graffiti-marked, white Mercedes-Benz Sprinter targeted an unsuspecting yeshivah bachur as he prepared to enter the well-attended shul for Shacharis. Without a word being exchanged, a rock went flying from inside the van; the projectile struck the 23-year-old’s leg and he stumbled, but thankfully he was not injured and needed no Hatzalah assistance. The van continued southwest-bound on 72nd Road toward 139th Street.

On Motza’ei Shabbos, I was shown the eight-second clip, and feared its spread amongst community chats could instill unnecessary fear, as the episode appeared spontaneous. An ongoing investigation into the situation is headed by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force who has yet to name a suspect or make an arrest. Anyone with information including sightings of this easily identifiable automobile is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), by text message at CRIMES (247637) and then entering TIP577, or online at For two years running, New York remains the national leader in reports of anti-Semitism, with a state high of 580 such happenings last year.

“We as a community at-large, but specifically as a frum community, have a very close relationship with the 107th police precinct as well as a growing and strong local Shmira organization who work in tandem to ensure our safety,” conveyed Sorolle Idels, Chairperson of the Queens Jewish Alliance. “We as a group need to be vigilant in reporting incidents no matter how miniscule we think of the occurrence. It is our obligation to call Shmira at 718-329-4444 and call 911 to describe anything that looks out of the ordinary.” As the coordinator of community outreach for Shmira, I agree wholeheartedly with Mrs. Idels and can confirm that small tidbits add up and give the police department more reason to take reports seriously.

When Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Friedman, the Ulemer Rav, stood beside Meshulam Lisker and ignited the medurah outside of his beis midrash, Beis Yosef D’Ulem, at the corner of 72nd Road and 141st Street in Kew Gardens Hills, he made clear that we as a community stand strong and united – no matter the heritage – Ashkenazi or Sefardi – we are am Yisrael chai. While the rav’s hadlakah, the biggest in Queens, did not compare to the tens of thousands seen by Rav Aharon Teitelbaum in Satmar’s Kiryas Yoel, or Rav Meilich Biederman’s in Meron, it showcased the drive and determination of the Queens Jewish community to overcome individual instances of anti-Semitism, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and steadfast hand-in-hand.

By Shabsie Saphirstein