Mother of Victim of Antisemitic Terror Attack Seeks to Build Bridges to Fight Hatred in New York City

Devorah Halberstam speaks at the recent town hall against hate, at the Jewish Children’s Museum, in Brooklyn, New York.

March 6, 2022

A town hall against hate was recently held at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, Spectrum News NY 1 reported.

The museum’s director, Devorah Halberstam, said the event was part of an ongoing effort to build bridges between different communities, combat antisemitism, and honor the memory of her teenage son who was murdered 28 years ago in an antisemitic terrorist attack in New York City.

“Every single moment of my life is dedicated and committed to educating our young people about acceptance, about the love and not hate,” Halberstam stated.

Halberstam’s son, Ari, was 16 when he was killed by a Lebanese-born Islamist gunman, Rashid Baz, who opened fire on a van carrying a group of yeshiva students across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Baz was arrested, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 141 years in prison.

Halberstam said she hoped young people today could connect with her late son’s story.

One of the event participants, 19-year-old Kiana Thomas, said, “Just hearing that story and feeling a mother’s pain, that did strike me. I was trying my best not to cry.”

New York City has experienced a sharp spike in antisemitic incidents to start 2022, prompting Mayor Eric Adams to convene a roundtable meeting with dozens of Jewish community leaders.

New York City Police Department (NYPD) data showed there were 22 anti-Jewish hate crimes from the start of January through the first week of February — compared to eight in the same time period in 2021.

In recent years, Jews have been the most-targeted group for hate crimes in New York City, according to the NYPD, including a nearly 50% increase in 2021 from 2020.

In January 2020, around 25,000 people participated in the “No Hate, No Fear” rally in New York City after of previous wave of antisemitic violence in the city and surrounding area, including the deadly Monsey stabbing and Jersey City shooting attacks.