2003-02-08 / Front Page

Meeting Expresses Concern Over Hate Crime

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Responding to the arrest of three yeshiva students for "harassing" some Catholic schoolgirls, a meeting was held at the 100 Precinct on Tuesday evening, hosted by the precinct’s commanding officer, Captain Charles Talamo.

"The meeting was held to address issues of interfaith harmony in the community," Rabbi Levi Dicker, the dean of the Mercaz Hatorah Yeshiva and Monsignor Martin Geraghty, the pastor of St. Frances de Sales Church said in a joint statement. "Rabbi Dicker has informed the yeshiva students of the seriousness of this matter and the disciplinary response of the yeshiva to any students who ever again become involved in such a divisive event. Monsignor Geraghty called a special meeting of the seventh and eighth graders at St. Francis School to remind them that they have a responsibility to respect the dignity of every person."

Attending the meeting were Rabbi Dicker, Monsignor Geraghty, Captain Talamo, City Councilman Joe Addabbo, Belle Harbor Property Owners Association President Barbara Larkin, Harvey Gordon, the Executive Director of the Rockaway Jewish Council and a representative of Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.

Also present at the meeting was Police Sergeant Fanning of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, who told the group of the serious nature of hate crimes and the severe laws that apply to bias crimes in New York City.

Fanning emphasized the importance of communicating this information to the community, especially to those who might be tempted to engage in harassment of anyone of another faith, another race, another nationality.

Gordon called the meeting "positive" and said, "it is important that community leaders such as the rabbi and the monsignor talk with kids."

He added, however, "parents have to have warmer feelings, be more tolerant of others."

"What’s good for one community in Rockaway is good for all the others. The community good is good for all," Gordon said. "People don’t seem to understand that."

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