2006-09-29 / Community

Orthodox Jews and NAACP Team Up For Tolerance

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

A Bayswater resident explains how Jewish youth have been assaulted over the last six months. "It's not just on the Sabbath, it's an ongoing thing," he said. A Bayswater resident explains how Jewish youth have been assaulted over the last six months. "It's not just on the Sabbath, it's an ongoing thing," he said. The Jewish Orthodox community in Bayswater and the Rockaway NAACP, in an effort to teach tolerance to the young people of the area, are joining forces as a result of assaults on Orthodox youth by black children over the last six months.

The coming together of communities occurred at last week's 101 Precinct Community Council after more than a dozen parents and children from the Bayswater Orthodox community came to the meeting to shed light onto the problem.

"If we could work together and educate the children of the community of all colors, I think there is a slight possibility some of this would calm down," one Orthodox mother said to Ed Williams of the Rockaway NAACP as she asked for his help.

Williams' positive response to teaming up to fight intolerance came after he told everyone at the meeting, "Your concern is our concern. No one should live in fear in any of our communities. Our primary concern is for all our rights to be protected - white, blue, green or yellow. If we could be of assist, call us."

A Orthodox Jewish mother and Ed Williams of the Rockaway NAACP confer after agreeing to work together to educate the black and Jewish youths about tolerance. A Orthodox Jewish mother and Ed Williams of the Rockaway NAACP confer after agreeing to work together to educate the black and Jewish youths about tolerance. On Wednesday, Williams told The Wave he has already come up with ideas concerning diversity training or a forum to address the issue. He is currently working on contacting the Orthodox community in Bayswater.

"I suspect that within the next week or so, if it is conducive to the Orthodox community, I will put something together," said Williams.

Several parents discussed the assaults their children have experienced.

"We have had weekly assaults all through the last six months on our children in Bayswater," said one concerned mother.

A mother of four, whose family has lived in Bayswater for 17 years, said her youngest son has been assaulted four times in six months, while another mother said, "my daughter was assaulted on the corner of Cornaga and Nameoke [on September 14]. It is not just Bayswater."

Captain Brian McMahon, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct told all those attending the meeting "the problem is two prong. One is tolerance. The other is the punching and also doing robberies."

Captain Brian McMahon speaks with concerned mothers after the meeting. Captain Brian McMahon speaks with concerned mothers after the meeting. McMahon proposed setting up a tolerance program with the schools in the area. "I will talk to the principals," he said.

Meanwhile, McMahon explained some of the tactics he is using to solve the problem.

McMahon said the number one person to address the problem for the Orthodox community is Officer Kevin Campbell of the Community Policing Unit. Campbell was assigned as a result of people being harassed on their way to and from school.

The precinct also uses what they call a "house of worship car." During each tour of duty, the car attempts to visit each house of worship in the precinct.

The precinct is also addressing the safety of youngsters going to Yeshiva.

"If there is a problem going to school and being harassed at 3:00 every day, that is easy for us to take care of," said McMahon.

McMahon said several rabbis, including Rabbi Goodman, have visited him to discuss the matter.

Also, since coming to the precinct - McMahon has responded to requests from the Jewish Community Council for extra security.

In addition to patrols, extra protection and working with rabbis in the Bayswater area, there is a visual presence. Campbell, along with Sergeant Michael McCaffery (also of the Community Policing Unit), make up just a small number of those assigned to the area.

"For every one you see there are four other officers [you don't see]," explained McMahon.

McMahon told anyone who has been a victim of assault to report the incident immediately to 911.

"If you go home and tell your mother... it takes a long time. If you call 911, especially down here, then we'll catch them off the bat," McMahon told the parents and children.

In addition, the anonymous fax number connected to the captain's office is still up and running at (718) 868-3436. In addition to community policing, residents can contact Detective Willie Olmeda or Officer George Torres of the Community Affairs Unit for assistance.

With the end of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur beginning sundown on Sunday, Olmeda assured the precinct would be providing additional coverage for the affected areas.

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