Members of Rockland's Jewish community call out senator for polio statement

A state lawmaker is drawing fierce criticism after releasing a statement many in the Rockland Jewish community saw as antisemitic in response to the first case of polio in the county.

News 12 Staff

Jul 23, 2022, 12:24 AM

Updated 669 days ago

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A state lawmaker is drawing fierce criticism after releasing a statement many in the Rockland Jewish community saw as antisemitic in response to the first case of polio in the county.
The now-deleted statement from state Sen. James Skoufis singled out the infected patient as a member of the Orthodox Jewish community when that was not previously made public by county health officials.
He also called out the private Jewish schools in the Town of Ramapo for having a "history of non-compliance with the state's vaccine laws" and called for the "full force of the law on those who skirted these requirements" -- even though the patient was a young adult, not a student.
Those within the Orthodox Jewish community tell News 12 the statement caused a level of anger and outrage not seen in the past.
Others say this type of rhetoric must be called out to prevent future acts of antisemitism in the area.
The Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland and Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey released a joint statement saying they were extremely concerned.
"We certainly expect that singling out and stereotyping is not going to be part of the discussion when issues of public health come up," said Ari Rosenblum, CEO of the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland.
Members of the community acknowledge some level of general vaccine hesitancy but say it is not only among the Orthodox community.
They worry this rhetoric could lead to future antisemitism.
Skoufis declined requests for an interview or statement, but he tweeted Thursday night that he met with leaders in the Rockland Jewish community and added, "I committed to continuing the dialogue to ensure next steps are appropriate, relevant, and in the best interests of all."
The Jewish Federation says it is planning to announce a physical security plan for Jewish neighborhoods in Rockland next week in response to the recent uptick in antisemitic incidents in the Hudson Valley.


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