Published On: Sat, Feb 16th, 2019

What Is It Like Being Jewish in 2019 New York City?

The first Jewish immigrants arrived in New York in the late 17th century. Since then, they made quite an impact on the city and its development. Today, over 1.1 million Jews live within New York City and nearly 2 million in the state as a whole. It’s no wonder as NYC has long been lauded as one of the most tolerant and liberal cities in the country, if not the world. Yet, recent news of attacks fueled by anti-Semitism shows that being a Jew in today’s New York City can be quite a risk.

photo/ Jo Wiggijo via pixabay

How Safe Are Jews in New York City Today?

The simple answer is that Jewish people are as safe as all other New York City residents. This should be a good thing as according to latest reports, the overall crime rate in NYC is going down. However, recorded hate crime complaints don’t show much change in numbers. Therefore, being a part of any minority puts one at a greater than average risk.

What is truly concerning is the fact that anti-Semitic sentiments, like swastikas appearing all over the place, are growing in both number and boldness. This particular issue is made more complicated by the fact that anti-Semitism doesn’t have a ‘figurehead’ behind it.

It’s easy to assume that the drive behind this particular brand of hate crimes is the fault of far right-wing groups. Yet, according to reports, no person caught for those crimes is associated with them. For this reason, prevention of such crimes becomes extremely complicated. That’s part of the reason why anti-Semitic hate crimes, such as the assault on a Rabbinical student in 2018, keep happening.

Therefore, being a Jew in the New York City of today might not be the safest. However, it’s not some high-risk area for the Orthodox communities.

What Is Good About Being Jewish in New York City?

Anti-Semitism has been an issue for decades and it doesn’t show any sign of resolution. However, being Jewish in New York City is probably easier than in any other part of the country. There is no shortage of Jewish events and synagogues in New York City. There are also multiple Orthodox communities located in different boroughs. Each of them offers acceptance and support, as well as opportunities to practice a variety of religious and cultural customs.

An article in The New York Times, featuring multiple photographs of everyday lives of Hasidic women, offers a look at the life of some such communities. And that glimpse shows that one can enjoy living their life and observing their rituals in peace while surrounded by likeminded individuals.

Therefore, being a Jew in NYC today can be a wonderful experience. There is no denying the fact that there are many opportunities for one who wants to follow the traditions to any extent. The sheer diversity of NYC Orthodox communities means that one should always find the right kind of support.

What’s the Verdict? What Is It Truly Like to Be Jewish in 2019 New York City?

Being a New Yorker, in general, is not for the faint of heart. This city is extremely demanding and it’s a fact that one has to be rather vigilant while walking its streets. It’s also true that one has to be more vigilant if they are Jewish as anti-Semitic crimes make up the majority of hate crimes in New York City today. That is rather concerning, especially when one considers that the anti-Jewish sentiment seems to be growing.

Taking all these facts into account, being a Jew in New York City is definitely not easy these days, despite the multiple cultural opportunities. Therefore, one should be aware of the risks and take reasonable precautions.

Author: Jane Koval

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