The leadership of a neighboring New Jersey borough has reached out to Rockland’s Jewish community to build better community ties in the aftermath of the Jersey City tragedy.
Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder was among those attending the meeting, which was held in Ramapo Town Supervisor Michael Specht’s office, and included Mike Ghassali, the mayor of Montvale, N.J., as well as the borough’s police chief, Joseph Sanfilippo.
“I truly appreciate the warm outreach on the part of the mayor and the police chief,” Legislator Wieder said. “They are wonderful neighbors and their gesture of sympathy, as well as their interest in finding ways to bring our overall community together, resonates deeply.”
Discussion focused on the tragedy that occurred in Jersey City, N.J., on Dec. 10, when two members of a hate group murdered a police officer then made their way to a kosher market and intentionally opened fire on innocent bystanders, killing three people, including two Orthodox Jews and an Ecuadoran immigrant who worked in the store. The mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, has publicly described the motive behind the attacks as “a hate crime against Jewish people.”
Mayor Ghassili said he knows some of Rockland’s Orthodox Jewish leadership and that he wanted to meet so he could personally express his condolences on the loss of the victims.
“It was an honor to meet with our neighbors and to stand in solidarity with them and show our support as we stand together against anti-Semitism and against hate,” Mayor Ghassili said.
The mayor said the session was just the beginning of what he hopes will be ongoing meetings to bring all community members together.
Also attending the meeting were Rabbi Yishiel Steinmetz and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, both representing the Eruv Association of Rockland; Abraham Rosenberg of Hatzolah; Josef Margaretten of Chaverim; Yossi Gestetner of OJPAC; and Rabbi Israel Kahan, a community activist.