June 12, 2024
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Woodcliff Lake Mayor Condemns Anti-Semitic Graffiti; Juvenile Perps Caught

Carlos Rendo, Woodcliff Lake’s first Hispanic mayor, reported on Facebook on October 31 that anti-Semitic messages scrawled on a local street within a five-minute drive of two synagogues, deserved a full investigation. This Bergen County borough near the New York border has a significant population of Jewish residents, many of whom are members of Temple Emanuel of Pascack Valley or Valley Chabad. Rendo immediately contacted Police Chief John Burns and local officials, who took swift action.

Epithets, a swastika and lewd images were drawn on Woodmont Drive in the borough’s northwest corner, and toilet paper was strewn on nearby trees. Comments by residents on Facebook indicated that anti-Semitic sentiments have been rising in Woodcliff Lake and the environs over the past decade, and residents sought strong punishment for those responsible. The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey made a series of statements on Twitter and issued a press release. “There is zero tolerance for acts of hate against Jews or any group,” said CEO Jason Shames. “We have been in close contact with elected officials and law enforcement, including the Woodcliff Lake Police and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office. Often, the perpetrators of these types of incidents are young people being reckless and mischievous but either way, their actions must be seriously dealt with,”

The Federation noted that the police responded very quickly, as did Congressman Josh Gottheimer, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, and Freeholder Tracy Zur. Jerry Dargan, Federation’s director of community
security, said: “We are grateful to law enforcement for their swift and serious response to this matter. We are confident the perpetrators will be identified shortly and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Indeed, on November 2, Rendo reported on Facebook that the investigation had been completed and posted a statement made by the police: “The Woodcliff Lake Police Department has concluded its investigation into the bias writings that were found in town. Two juveniles have come forward and took responsibility for the acts. Both juveniles are remorseful for their actions and expressed that they got caught up in the mayhem of mischief night. They stated that this was not done out of any hate, just out of stupidity and poor judgement. The individuals are being disciplined with the guidance of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Anti Bias Unit.”

Rabbi Dov Drizin, executive director of Valley Chabad, which is located in Woodcliff Lake and also serves the Pascack Valley and Saddle River communities, also made a public statement. “This incident brings forth the opportunity and indeed the responsibility of our entire community to stand together in solidarity against all forms of bigotry and hatred, recognizing the inherent dignity of all human beings who are created in the ‘image of God.’”

Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley, also located in Woodcliff Lake, did not make a public statement by press time.

By Elizabeth Kratz

 

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