Thursday, May 21, 2009

Response to the Foiled Plot in Riverdale

Response to the Foiled Terrorist Plot
Against the Jewish Community of Riverdale

By Rabbi Julie Schonfeld
Incoming executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly

May 21, 2009 -- Waking up to the news that the FBI foiled a plot to bomb two synagogues in Riverdale, New York was shocking not only to the local Jewish community but to all New Yorkers…and to our nation at large.

The would-be targets of this well-planned attack were synagogues – one Orthodox, the other Reform, located within walking distance of one another within this warm, close-knit and diverse Jewish community just north of Manhattan.

If we ever needed confirmation that our diverse and often divided religious community is indeed united --as one people with one heart -- the failed terrorists from Newburgh provided us with that reminder.

As a native of Riverdale, I feel a unique connection to the news of the thwarted attack. I grew up down the street from the Riverdale Jewish Center and have attended numerous events, programs, bar mitzvahs, weddings and functions there as well in the various other local houses of worship, including the Conservative Synagogue of Riverdale where one of our own Rabbinical Assembly members, Rabbi Barry Dov Katz, is spiritual leader.

My elderly father still lives in Riverdale, numerous faculty members of the Jewish Theological Seminary and leaders of the Conservative movement are residents and the community is renowned for its vibrant Jewish life.

Riverdale is a model of diversity, similar in many ways to the White Plains community where I live. It is one of the main arteries of my life, not only because I drive through it twice daily on my way to and from my home in Westchester to my Morningside Heights office.

Riverdale is central to my life because it is the place where I drop my children off every morning to attend the warm and loving Jewish day school they attend, located within walking distance of the targeted synagogues.

On behalf of the Rabbinical Assembly, I commend the FBI, the New York State Police, the anti-terrorist investigative team and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all of whom performed a stellar job in preventing what might have been a tragedy of enormous proportions.

Let us take this opportunity to transcend our differences and come together as a community of Jewish New Yorkers. We will not give in to fear or bend to terror. Let us not wait for hatred to remind us of our common bond.

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