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Fallout continues following anti-Semitic remarks made at Rockville Centre public meeting

CBS New York By: Lisa Rozner

April 11th, 2022

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. -- Following widespread condemnation from federal lawmakers to the governor, an apology was issued by the Long Island resident who made anti-Semitic remarks at a public board meeting.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday, there is still more fallout from the incident.

A menorah outside a Rockville Centre home is supposed to a symbol of light.

"The ultimate triumph of good over evil," Rabbi Mendel Gurkov said.

Gurkov runs the Chabad of Rockville Centre and lives there. Last week, resident Michelle Zangari told the village board of trustees at a public meeting, "There's now a menorah at least 8 feet tall a few blocks from mine and I am worried."

Avi Posnick, Regional Director StandWithUs Northeast and New England

Worried she said that the home would be used as a small synagogue and be the beginning of a trend she saw while growing up in the nearby Five Towns.

"It began exactly this way. Rabbis and their families purchased homes, creating synagogues," Zangari said. "Please understand, this has nothing to do with religion. I'm asking you to amend our code so a synagogue cannot be on every residential street.

"Residents will have issues with homes turning into houses of worship, especially once it's understood those properties will be exempt from paying property taxes," she added.

Mayor Francis Murray responded by saying, "The board will be very concerned and look into it immediately."

"It was hurtful. It was targeting the Jewish community," said Avi Posnick, executive director of the group Stand With Us.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said "The anti-Semitic rhetoric and tropes used by a speaker at the recent Rockville Centre village board meeting are offensive and disturbing."

Gov. Kathy Hochul added, "Everyone is welcome in New York. The despicable and anti-Semitic rhetoric used at a Rockville Centre board of trustees meeting has no place in our state."

"If you just knock on the door, ask me, speak to me. I'm an open person," Gurkov said.

The rabbi said Zangari sent a letter Monday night apologizing and acknowledging her statements were anti-Semitic.

"We're waiting for a full apology and an action forward from the mayor, but that said we are going to work together, hopefully to confront it," Gurkov said.

The board of trustees and the mayor put out a statement that reads, "Rockville Centre remains a welcoming, caring, and inclusive community that embraces all members of our Village. We are home to people who have come from all different paths in life, but what binds us together is the kindness, respect, and compassion we have for our fellow neighbors. As an elected board, part of our responsibility is to provide an open forum for all residents. We will not let divisive rhetoric of any kind define us; we embrace understanding and acceptance of all."

However, when Rozner followed up by asking the mayor if he plans to apologize, she did not get a response.

The rabbi and mayor are scheduled to meet Tuesday.

Rozner left messages via email and phone for Zangari requesting an interview, but did not get a reply.

Read the full article here.


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