By Sarah Brill
On December 10th, another attack was targeted at the Jewish community. In the neighborhood of Greenville in Jersey City, NJ, a shootout, which lasted for one hour, ended with the deaths of Mindy Ferencz, the owner of the JC Kosher supermarket (and site of the second half of the attack), Moshe Deutsch, a supermarket customer, Miguel Rodriguez, a supermarket employee, and Detective Joseph Seals from the Jersey City Police Department.
The attack started in Bayview Cemetery, about a mile from JC Kosher, where Detective Seals was killed when investigating a murder that took place in Bayonne, NJ earlier that week. The suspects then went to JC Kosher and opened fire on an exiting vehicle before entering the market to kill Ferencz, Deutsch, and Rodriguez. The suspects exchanged gunfire with law enforcement for over an hour before they were shot and killed. During this ordeal, the Jersey City Medical Center, JC Public Schools, Yeshiva of Khal Adas Greenville, along with public transportation, were all on lockdown. On December 11th, it was released that the suspects were David Anderson, a man who, on social media, had posted anti-Semitic and anti-police comments, and his girlfriend, Francine Graham. The attack was deemed a hate-crime by both Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City.
Following this attack, the Yeshiva University Security Department sent out a mass email to the student body, stating: “[O]ut of an abundance of caution, the NYPD has made the following changes: NYPD Counterterrorism Response Command (CRC) resources and the Critical Response Group (CRG) have been dispatched to local synagogues as well as local colleges and universities, to provide enhanced police presence.” Additionally, a “uniformed NYPD Officer [has been] assigned to the campus during the evening hours.”
The Jersey City attack comes on the heels of many other targeted anti-Semitic attacks throughout the last few years. As reported by the Anti-Defamation League, there were over 780 anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. in the first half of 2019.
When asked if the students on both the Wilf Campus and Beren Campus felt safer due to the new security mechanisms, most students did not seem to notice updated security measures. Shani Wolfson-Lewis, SCW ‘21, who lives on the uptown campus and commutes to Beren on a regular basis, finds security to be strong. “Both uptown and downtown have a good security system,” said Wolfson-Lewis. Contrastingly, Rebekah Bargraser, SCW ‘21, told the YU Observer, “ [When I am] walking back from the subway [I feel like] someone is following [me].” When asked if she feels nervous about going to a Jewish school, she replied, “I have always gone to a Jewish school but it is[…]a thought that scares me.”
Additionally, Bridget Frenkel, SCW ‘22, shared: “[..] I feel like personally, after all of these attacks going on, the school just sends out emails regarding put[ting] up more security around the school, but I don’t really see it. Last week, some homeless guy came up to me [right outside the Stern doors] and would not stop touching me and security didn’t do anything about it.” More students shared sentiments like these and are hoping that following the uptick in anti-Semitic terror attacks, the YU administration and security officers will implement the proper measures to ensure student, faculty, and staff protection.