The Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO) of Staten Island together with the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island and other Jewish organizations on Staten Island, held a borough-wide “Stand with Israel” rally on July 24 at the South Beach Boardwalk. Well over 2,200 people participated. The theme of the evening was that Israel has a right to live in peace. The huge crowd peacefully rallied in South Beach to voice support for Israel in the increasingly tense and violent confrontation with opposing forces in Gaza.
Leaders of the borough’s Jewish community offered prayers, politicians committed to backing their cause, and coordinators gave out support bands, water, balloons, flags, and T-shirts. The master of ceremonies was the CEO of COJO, Scott Maurer, and a board member of the Chabad Israel Center of Staten Island. The presentation of the colors, pledge of allegiance, and anthems was done by Harold Bregman and Arthur Huss of the Jewish War Veterans, Post 80 of Staten Island, and Charles Greinsky, commander. Introductions to the crowd were made by Emma Dukovny and Chana Uzansky of the Staten Island Hebrew Academy together with Mendy Mirocznik, President of COJO SI and Scott Kalmikoff, the associate executive director of COJO SI, who acknowledged all those in attendance and welcomed the rabbis, honored guests, and elected officials and representatives. Shachar Shawn Malachovsky, a COJO SI vice president, helped with the administrative details at the rally.
Rabbi Michael Miller, from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and Rabbi Jacob Klass, a presidium member of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, spoke at the rally. David Sorkin, executive director of the JCC of Staten Island and Ruth Lasser and Orit Lender from the JCC also attended the rally. Austin Maurer, together with Stand With Israel, helped at the rally by leading a strong supportive cheer for Israel in these trying times.
Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Michael Cusick addressed the crowd. Ari Kagan represented New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Aaron Ceder represented Congressman Michael Grimm (he was called to Washington; however, he submitted a strong statement supporting Israel’s right to live in peace and that no nation should have to exist with terror), Jason Razefsky represented Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, Roy Moskowitz represented Assemblyman Matthew Titione, and Assemblywoman Nichole Malliotakis was represented by her mother. Several prominent community rabbis participated in the rally, such as Rabbi Moshe and Chani Katzman of Chabad Lubavitch of Staten Island; Rabbi Nachman Segal of the Chabad Israel Center; Rabbi Eli Kogan and Rabbi Zeev and Esther Kushnirsky of Jewish Russian Learning Center of South Beach; Rabbi Yochanan and Sterna Ivry of Congregation Toras Emes; Cantor Mordechai Edry of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun; Rabbi Judah Newberger of Congregation B’nai Israel; Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield and Rabbi Ephraim Polakoff of the Young Israel of Staten Island; and Rabbi Shlomo and Chana Uzansky of the Staten Island Hebrew Academy. To close the event, Alex Goldin and Rabbi Moish Schmerler led the crowd in a solidarity march down the boardwalk. Staten Island’s legendary D.J., Coach John, helped with the musical presentations and sound system.
A special thank you to Assistant New York Police Department Chief Edward Delatorre of the Staten Island Borough Command; Captain Robert Bocchino, commanding officer of the 122 Pct.; Captain Alan Larson, commanding officer of the Staten Island Patrol Borough Task Force; the 122 Pct. auxiliaries; and to the wonderful police officers of NYPD who maintained order and peace throughout the rally. A special thank you also goes to Hatzolah of Staten Island, D.A.R.T. of Staten Island, as well as to C.E.R.T. of Port Richmond who helped maintained order, the direction of traffic, and crowd control. This was the largest pro-Israel rally that Staten Island has seen in recent times.
The Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island is located at 984 Post Avenue in Staten Island. Call 718-720-4047 or visit www.cojosi.com to learn more. ϖ