Village of Great Neck adopts working definition of antisemitism

Robert Pelaez
The Village of Great Neck adopted the working definition of antisemitism during last week's Board of Trustees meeting. (Photo from the Island Now archives)

The Village of Great Neck unanimously adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism during last week’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The resolution also provides examples of rhetorical and physical hatred and intolerance toward those of Jewish or non-Jewish descent, property, institution and religious structures.

The village joined the Town of North Hempstead and Nassau County as the local municipalities to adopt the working definition.

“I wanted [the village] to have solidarity with the Town of North Hempstead and Nassau County,” Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral said. “It’s an important message to give.”

Bral recognized the increase of antisemitic attacks throughout Nassau County, Long Island and the world over the past year, saying the adoption of the definition allows the village to stand unified against various forms of bigotry.

“Obviously there has been a significant rise in antisemitism with all of the discussions and writings that people make on social media as well as different channels,” Bral said. “I think it’s important to really speak in a unified voice against antisemitism or any other racism.”

In February, anti-Semitic intruders interrupted a virtual Torah study event at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck. The unknown perpetrators logged onto the Zoom meeting and proceeded to “post offensive material and speak words of hate,” temple President Gary Slobin and Executive Director Stuart Botwinick said in a statement.

The event was promptly ended, according to the statement, and the police were contacted to investigate.

Officials said that they did not believe Temple Beth-El, located at 5 Old Mill Road, was a target for any specific reason other than its role as a Jewish temple. Officials said they are working with the temple’s security consultants to ensure such incidents do not occur again.

“As Jews, we have experienced hatred and anti-Semitism in our history … and we know the importance of being strong and proudly standing up in our own defense,” the temple officials’ statement said. “While there will always be moments of darkness and acts of evil, our community will stand united, strong and never bend to intimidation. May we continue to go from strength to strength.”

The incident came about two months after hackers vandalized the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School’s website with anti-Semitic images, messages and songs.

Pictures and videos from, a nonprofit that draws attention to anti-Semitic attacks and rhetoric, were posted on Dec. 14. The video featured the home page of the school’s website with Nazi soldiers marching in the background.

About two months earlier, in October, unidentified vandals spray-painted 12 swastikas after breaking into the Port Washington Police Athletic League’s Sunset Park clubhouse.

PAL Executive Director Rob Elkins said the vandals found a can of red spray paint in the clubhouse and sprayed swastikas “all over the inside of the building, on-field equipment, on balls and bats, on the bathroom walls, on our tractor and on the front door to the building.”

Investigations of the incidents at the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School and the Police Athletic League were continuing as of July, but efforts to reach the Nassau County Police Department for further comment were unavailing.

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