June 2, 2024
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Effy’s Cafe on the Upper West Side Attacked for Being Israeli-Owned

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine enjoys brunch at Effy’s with Upper West Side assembly candidate Micah Lasher.

On Sunday, Effy’s Cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan was defaced in an apparent antisemitic attack from unknown perpetrators. The exterior of the Israeli-owned restaurant was covered in red paint and anti-Israel statements such as “form line here to support genocide” were spraypainted on the sidewalk near the entrance.

According to owner Efi Alkoby, the restaurant staff was already cleaning up the defacement just five hours after the attack. The following morning, Jewish community members and supporters of the restaurant rallied to help Effy’s, assembling a clean-up crew to completely eliminate the graffiti on the sidewalk. By noon on Monday, the restaurant appeared as if the attack had never happened, thanks to the efforts of the staff and the volunteers, many of whom found the opportunity via the Upper West Side Shtetl Facebook group.

“Come help if you can! At Cafe Effy on West 96th and Columbus. We need more baking soda,” Melanie Notkin posted in the group early Monday morning. Later on she updated her post, writing, “All clean!” Many other community members, including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and Upper West Side assembly candidate Micah Lasher visited Effy’s on Monday to show their solidarity.

Effy’s Cafe on the Upper West Side shortly after being vandalized.

“Brunch with Mark Levine at Effy’s on West 96th Street after it was targeted for being a Jewish establishment,” Lasher wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “We came to show solidarity and support. To call this incident what it was — antisemitic hate. To demand that Albany expand the hate crimes law. And to make clear that New York will never be a place where this is tolerated, condoned or chalked up to reasonable political discourse.”

Ultimately, owner Alkoby decided he did not want to press charges. “These are stupid kids,” he noted to The Jewish Link. “We’ve been part of the Upper West Side community for 25 years and we’re not looking to point any fingers at anyone right now. I’m too busy giving love to give any hate.”

A volunteer cleans up the graffiti on the sidewalk in front of Effy’s.

According to the West Side Rag, NYPD indicated that the incident was under investigation and the hate crime task force was notified; there was no primary suspect as of press time. Rabbi Allen Schwartz of the nearby Congregation Ohab Zedek stated in a message to congregants that the community is working together with Rep. Jerry Nadler and Councilwoman Gale Brewer to take a “public stance against these disgusting acts.”

Alkoby shared his thoughts on these types of attacks and what they mean to Israeli-owned businesses like Effy’s. “We are the only liberal country in the Middle East that has rights for everyone. English is not my first language, but I know enough to call this hate of Israel an ‘oxymoron.’ We’ve had a lot of reasons to be hateful since Oct. 7… but we will continue to believe in love.”

A group of volunteers gather in front of Effy’s to help clean up the vandalism.

Channa Fischer is digital editor at The Jewish Link.

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