In Crown Heights: 'World Better Off If All Jews Were Lampshades'
A Brooklyn subway station became the venue for the latest bit of Nazi graffiti during the Jewish holidays in the month of Tishrei. Scrawled in capital letters in red marker on two newly-painted support pillars, in both north and south platforms, were the words:
“THE WORLD WOULD BE MUCH BETTER OFF IF ALL THE JEWS WERE LAMPSHADES”
A second comment, “HitlER (sic) WAS RIGHT RE THE JEWS,” was scrawled on another pillar at the same station.
The target, considered “ground zero” for Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidism, was a subway station located at Kingston Avenue and Eastern Parkway, in the neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The stop is situated at the sect's nerve center, Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, at “770” Eastern Parkway, serving thousands of hareidi-religious Jews every day.
The hate crime was discovered at the station, on Sunday, September 30, just prior to the start of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashannah.
A spokesman for New York City police said the incident is under investigation.
During the Hebrew month of Tishrei, the New York Police Department assigns extra personnel to the area to ensure that calm is maintained throughout the neighborhood, where tens of thousands of visitors arrive from around the world.
On August 19, 1991, long-simmering racial tensions ignited a three-day race riot that began when an eight-year-old African American boy, Gavin Cato, and his young cousin Angela were accidentally struck by a car driven by an Israeli Jew. The vehicle, part of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's motorcade returning from a visit to the gravesite of the rabbi's father-in-law, had jumped the curb after being hit from behind.
Within hours, a mob of African Americans surrounded an Australian rabbinical scholar, and then-16-year-old Lemrick Nelson stabbed the budding rabbi to death “in revenge.” Jewish families were trapped in their homes as gangs roamed the streets, yelling “Kill the Jews!” and “Hitler didn't finish the job!”
When the situation was finally brought under control, days later, Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden brought leaders from each ethnic community to the table in what later became known as the Crown Heights Coalition – a 10-year initiative that gave birth to numerous projects geared to resolve cultural differences. Included among the members of the founding body were co-chairpersons Rabbi Shea Hecht, chairman of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE), and Dr. Edison O. Jackson, then-president of Medgar Evers College.