Authorities do not believe there is a connection between a recent string of anti-Semitic attacks and a batch of anti-Semitic fliers mailed out to synagogue and communal leaders last week. Nevertheless, precautions are being taken, as the North Jersey Jewish community has been on heightened alert since a series of attacks on area synagogues began before Chanukah.
The flier – entitled “Wall Street Jews” and featuring mock-ups of magazine covers featuring distorted pictures of Jewish financiers – was sent out over the last two weeks to a number of area synagogues and institutions, including the Jewish Federation of North Jersey and this paper. Some of the fliers listed Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abraham Foxman and a New York address on the return label.
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has not classified the mailings as a hate crime, said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, and his office has turned the investigation over to New York postal authorities, because the return labels fraudulently list a New York address and are “a probable violation of U.S. postal regulations.”
The ADL said it has been tracking such mailings since 2009. While the letters are “shocking” and “viciously anti-Semitic,” said Etzion Neuer, acting director of New Jersey’s ADL office, there is no cause for alarm because of them.
“We’ve seen no connection between people receiving it and any physical violence,” he said. “The letters are not direct threats against people who receive them, nor do police feel there is any risk.”
|What to do if you receive an anti-Semitic mailing|
|Anyone who receives an anti-Semitic flier in the mail should immediately report it to the local police, as well as to the Anti-Defamation League, which collects information on who has received it, said Etzion Neuer, acting director of the ADL’s New Jersey office. Reports should be made to Neuer’s office at (973) 669-9700.|
In 2009, similar anti-Semitic fliers entitled “100 Really Scary Jews” were mailed out across the country, including to this newspaper. The recent letters fit the pattern set by the earlier mailings.
Neuer also dismissed a connection between the fliers and the recent anti-Semitic attacks. More likely, he said, whoever sent the letters sought to capitalize on a sense of fear created by the attacks. That many of the letters list ADL’s Foxman in the return address, Neuer said, adds another layer of mischief because people think they are getting a letter from one of the most visible opponents of anti-Semitism.
“This is the work of an anonymous person taking an inordinate amount of time to identify Jews and then to send them mail,” he said. “In this environment, these anti-Semitic fliers are going to have a more serious impact on the recipients. Many of us are already jittery and it’s yet another indignity.”
Neuer warned, however, that recipients might not realize the fliers are part of a larger trend and dismiss them as general mischief. He asked that anybody who does receive one, report it.
At the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel, which received one of the fliers last week, the executive director threw it out as soon as she saw it. After shul leaders realized it was part of a larger trend in the area, however, they forwarded it to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
“It may or may not be related to the other events, but we’re glad [law enforcement is] taking it seriously,” said Rabbi Ronald Roth, noting that the synagogue is taking added precautions.
The “Wall Street Jews” mailing actually has been in circulation for several months. Daniel Sieradski, one of the organizers of the Occupy Judaism movement who led High Holy Days services during the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York last fall, received a similar flier shortly after Yom Kippur. Unlike last week’s mailings, there was no return address on the letter he received.
“My take on it is there’s some creep who’s seeing names in the headlines and sending these letters,” said Sieradski, a Teaneck native who now lives in Brooklyn.
While the letters are shocking, they do not contain direct threats against the people who receive them.
“The mailings, like the graffiti, are troubling expressions of anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi Randall Mark, president of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis. “Thankfully, they are of a much less lethal level than what we were just confronting [in the Rutherford arson case]…, but it’s troubling nonetheless.”