In a demonstration of their commitment to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, New Jersey law enforcement leaders visited Chabad at Rutgers in New Brunswick, where they met with rabbis and a handful of students.
“In my lifetime I never would have imagined what I saw at the University of Virginia, white supremacists shouting, ‘Jews will not replace us,’” said State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal during the 30-minute meeting on Oct. 16.
Accompanying Grewal were NJ State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan and Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Grewal said they came to Chabad to help law enforcement gain a further understanding of the needs and concerns of the Jewish community.
Callahan told NJJN that he viewed the meeting as part of the state police’s commitment to “fostering trust and bundling bridges” between the various communities it serves.
Grewal said he saw an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents while serving as Bergen County prosecutor prior to being appointed attorney general by Gov. Phil Murphy, noting that 30 percent of hate crimes in the state are targeted toward the Jewish community.
Chabad at Rutgers executive director Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, a state police chaplain, said there is generally a very accepting environment for Jewish students at Rutgers, but the gathering was held to increase awareness among state law enforcement of the needs of the Jewish community, such as sensitivity to Sabbath-observant Jews and security needs.
Several students told NJJN about recent anti-Semitic incidents. One, Eitan Scher, a senior psychology major from West Orange, said he had friends from the Mahwah area who had experienced anti-Semitism in their public schools as a result of an eruv controversy last year. Amidst legal challenges, the Bergen County town had removed an eruv, a boundary that forms a symbolic border and permits observant Jews to perform tasks that would otherwise be considered a violation of the Sabbath, such as carrying house keys or pushing a stroller outside of a private domain. During the uproar, Scher said, his friends “had pennies thrown at them,” and were subjected to other expressions of anti-Semitism.