Feb. 1, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Local Jewish organizations in Forest Hills are hosting a “rally against hate” this Sunday after a violent attack on a Jewish teenager late last year in Forest Hills.
The rally, organized by several Bukharian Jewish groups and expected to see elected officials and members of all faiths, will “reject hate and stand in solidarity with the Bukharian Jewish community” following a November group attack on a 16-year-old that sent him to the hospital.
The Bukharian teen, who attends a local yeshiva, suffered lip lacerations, contusions, and severe bruising to the body in an assault involving dozens of teens.
The incident sparked outrage among the local Jewish community, with many labeling the attack as hate-fueled and anti-Semitic. In a roundtable with area police shortly after the incident, several Jewish organizations alleged that the teens were heard shouting “Kill the Jew” during the attack.
While two teenagers were arrested one week after the incident and charged with assault and gang assault, no hate crime charges were filed. Police from the 112th Precinct told attendees at the December roundtable that while the investigation was ongoing, there wasn’t enough evidence to seek hate crime charges.
The rally’s organizers, however, say “enough is enough.”
“It’s alarming that across the city, not just Queens, we’re seeing a lot of hate fueled crime,” said David Aronov, co-founder of The Bukharian Jewish Union, one of the participating groups. “This will give people a chance to stand in solidarity with not only the Bukharian Jewish Community, but with all victims of hate crimes, because it’s all over.”
The 16-year-old victim and his family will also be at the rally.
Several officials have confirmed their attendance for Sunday’s event, according to Aronov, including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Sen. Joseph Addabo, Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, and Council Members Eric Ulrich, Donovan Richards, and Rory Lanceman.
The rally will also see Waleska Mendez, a soup kitchen volunteer who has been commended for intervening and stopping the attack on the 16-year-old, recognized once more for her bravery.
Mendez, who has already received commendations from Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Member Karen Koslowitz, will be receiving a third commendation from Assemblymember David Weprin at the rally.
“Waleska Mendez displayed extraordinary bravery and fortitude when she intervened in the hateful attack,” Weprin said. “She was not from the community that she intervened for. She displayed why it is important that we all stand united.”
At the rally, Mendez will also meet for the first time with the victim she saved and his family.
The rally will take place at the Bukharian Jewish Community Center, located at 106-16 70th Ave., beginning at 2 p.m. Feb.3