June 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Jewish-Owned Businesses on Upper East Side Targeted

At approximately 2 a.m. on May 15, the day after Yom Ha’Atzmaut, popular kosher restaurant Rothschild TLV on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was vandalized in a suspected act of antisemitic violence. The front windows were shattered and security camera footage caught a man wearing a scarf over his face using a tool to break the glass. It was immediately clear to restaurant owner Mike Kalbo that this act of vandalism was targeted simply because Rothschild TLV is Jewish-owned and kosher.

Kalbo shared with The New York Post that he had no doubts of the vandal’s intentions. “What else could it be?” he said. “A crazy person wouldn’t come with his face covered and a tool in his hand. It’s obvious. There is no doubt.”

Rothschild TLV manager Deana Pekanovic stated that the incident has left her “shocked,” especially considering that the restaurant has not seen any other negativity since the attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. “We’ve never had any issues here,” she told the Post. “We’ve only had support.”

The restaurant’s chef, Guy Kairi, was less surprised, noting that passersby had made anti-Israel statements while peering into the restaurant. “There were people passing by [on May 14] saying bad things, things like, ‘No wonder this place is empty, free Palestine.’” He continued by pointing out the ignorance of those statements. “I can tell you these kids have never been to Palestine,” he told the Post. “I want to live in peace and I know my neighbors want to live in peace here, and these people that are promoting violence and hate, they are not getting us anywhere.”

Kalbo spoke with NYPD detectives on May 15 and was notified that the vandalism was being investigated as a hate crime. In the meantime, the NYPD began investigating a similar incident at another Jewish-owned business nearby, The Nuts Factory, which also had its windows shattered at 2 a.m. on May 15.

“The NYPD is aware that many of these sites are visibly Jewish-run businesses, and we understand how unsettling this news may be for a community that is already on edge,” a City Hall spokesperson told Jewish Insider. “As part of the investigation, the NYPD is looking into whether these were bias attacks, and if found to be true, will not hesitate to arrest and charge the individuals responsible accordingly.”

 

Once word got out, Rothschild TLV was flooded with phone calls from locals who wanted to show their support for the restaurant, as well as people making reservations for dinner. Ramaz Upper School gathered a delegation of students to come to the restaurant in a show of solidarity, singing Am Yisrael Chai as they entered the restaurant and davening Mincha together there.

“When one glass is shattered, all of our glasses are shattered and we are not going to stand down,” Rabbi Aaron Frank, the principal of Ramaz Upper School, told The Forward. “We are here with pride, to pray and to be as one community and we want to come to show our solidarity and our love for our people.”

As of press time, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force was still investigating the vandalisms.

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