June 23, 2024
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June 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

About That Time I Was Hit in The Head on the Upper West Side Because I Am Jewish

No, I’m not kidding.

Writers focus on details, but for legal reasons I’m not going to say much more about the incident than what is provided in this headline. Suffice it to say that the assailant was arrested, and if I laid out the specifics of the crime committed against me for this readership you would be appalled. Or sad. Or angry.

Physically, I’m ok. The headache that I had for a few days is now gone. Emotionally, however, a scar remains.

I have repeatedly told myself that this happened to me for a reason. I’m a writer; I can convey a meaningful message. I can take a stand. I can harness this energy and fight antisemitism. But while those are all lovely thoughts, none of them have materialized into action.

Because I’ve been more focused on thoughts than action these last weeks, I will share some of those thoughts here.

  1. After the assault (which occurred in broad daylight on a well-traveled avenue), I screamed. And screamed. No one came to my aid until I practically begged someone to help. When people ask me if I’m scared to go on my shul mission to Israel, I emphatically state “no.” In Israel if I screamed on a busy street, I wouldn’t be ignored.
  2. Watching the rising tide of antisemitism in America is frightening. Yet it was somehow shocking to me and everyone I knew when I was hit.
  3. Community will get us through this. I instinctively called my rabbi after being struck, and he met me at the police station. My thinking at the time was that the crime occurred in his neighborhood, where his congregants live, and he needed to be aware. But in hindsight, that’s not at all why I called him. I was terrified, and I think in that moment I needed some spiritual guidance and assurance that the world wasn’t falling apart.
  4. Brett Stephens, the New York Times columnist who makes many in our community feel justified in having a subscription to the paper, spoke in my shul the other week. He said, in part, that he knows that Israel will ultimately be ok, but that he remains tremendously concerned about the future for Jews in America. We know why.
  5. The person who assaulted me was arrested. I’m struck by how many people have remarked to me “good for you.” But, what was my option? Would you really stay silent if you were the victim of a crime?

Perhaps that is my message. We cannot remain silent. Whether it’s with words or actions, davening or tzedaka, or using the legal system to right a wrong, we must act.

I am writing this article on the plane ride to Israel; I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to act in our homeland.

But to be honest, I’m simply overjoyed to be going home.


Judith Falk is the creator of the Upper West Side Shtetl Facebook group. You can follow her on instagram @upperwestsideshtetl. She is a lawyer by day and a former legal reporter.

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