Prior to his visit, the governor directed state police to increase patrols and security measures in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across New York.
“Everybody feels very upset and disturbed about what happened, and everybody stands in solidarity with you,” Cuomo said to a group of Jewish leaders.
The governor said his relationship with the Orthodox community goes back decades, back to when his father, Mario Cuomo, served as governor of New York.
“I’m here representing all the people of the state of New York who want to say they’re sorry about the tragedy,” he said, “and they stand with you in total solidarity and love.”
In the days following the hate crimes, including the stabbing of five people at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, Brooklyn’s elected leaders and residents have called for unity.
Last week, Borough President Eric Adams and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries announced a new initiative to improve dialogue between Brooklyn’s black and Jewish communities.
The initiative, called “Breaking Bread and Building Bonds,” will host dinners where groups of residents can interact.
On New Year’s Eve, hundreds of Brooklyn residents gathered in front of the borough’s largest menorah at Grand Army Plaza for an anti-hate rally. The demonstration included members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Sikh communities.
During the governor’s visit, Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organizations (UJO) of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, said Orthodox Jewish residents should feel safe when going or sending their children to synagogue.
“You shouldn’t be afraid by what happened in Monsey,” he said. “You shouldn’t be afraid when you have the children coming home from school.
“We hope that it’s a new beginning, it’s a new decade,” Niederman added. “We’re looking forward to leading a safe, peaceful community, being able to continue our religious traditions the way we had for generations and generations.”
In addition to assigning more state police patrols, Cuomo said he will propose a new domestic terrorism law that he wants the state legislature to pass in this upcoming session.
The governor labeled the attack in Monsey as both a hate crime and domestic terrorism.
“Terrorists don’t have to come on a plane,” he said. “You can have a person in this country who’s a domestic terrorist.
“We’re not going to tolerate it, it was ignorant, it’s anti-American,” Cuomo added. “It’s also illegal and we’re going to enforce the law.”
Niederman commented that the law will “make sure people will think not twice, but three times” about committing these types of hate crimes.
“The governor is looking to strengthen that hate crime provision to make sure that no Jewish community, no community, will have to go through what we have been going through,” he said.