Antisemitic Attacks in Crown Heights: One JewishMOM’s Experience by Tamar Stone

Antisemitic Attacks in Crown Heights: One JewishMOM’s Experience by Tamar Stone

Last year, I was seated in a packed subway train riding back home to Brooklyn with a couple of my daughters. There were some loud people standing in the middle of the train and it seemed that most people were watching their interactions, myself included. Just before my stop, a large man seated across from me started to yell at me, “Why you looking at those people? You think they’re funny? All you Jewish people are rich and greedy!…..”

The rest of the subway car sat silent. No one came to my defense. I grabbed my kids and exited as fast as I could.

I sometimes take walks along the parkway at the edge of our neighborhood. And without fail, every single time, people yell at me from passing cars, Once someone yelled at me from a passing car, “You f—-ing Jews!! Go to the gas chambers! Die Jew!!”

Sometimes they don’t yell from a car. Once somebody riding a bicycle tried to ram into me while yelling similar compliments. Sometimes I have been alone, sometimes with my children.

A couple of months ago, two of my teenage daughters took the subway to a local mall. On the way home, they found themselves in a packed subway car, and started to giggle. All of a sudden a big man started to yell at them, “You f—ing Jews! You think you own the world! You’re trash! You should have died in the ovens!!”

My daughters were surprised by this outburst. They were equally surprised that the entire packed car sat silent. Needless to say, they jumped out at the next stop and waited for another train…

The Stone family

About a year ago, my best friend’s pregnant daughter was walking with a baby carriage past an apartment building. Suddenly a non-Jewish woman ran out of the building, practically running into my friend’s daughter. She kicked at her carriage, grabbed the sheitel from her head and threw it down onto the ground, all the while screaming vile anti-Semitic curses and threats.

My friend’s daughter called police and they arrested the attacker. Even though my friend’s daughter was willing to go to trial, the case fell apart. We have seen many such cases somehow disappear…

In August of 1991, a year after we moved to Crown Heights and just three weeks after giving birth to my second child, there was a car accident on my corner. That accident sparked two weeks of chaos and an open war on the Jews. Some people called it a riot. That’s not true. It was a Pogrom, as only the Jews and Jewish property were targeted. During the next six months, we lived in a virtual police state.

Being a naive idealist, I was traumatized by the experience of having all my assumptions about living in America challenged. As much as I was disappointed in my neighbors for supporting the hostility against the Jews, there was a part of me that admitted that perhaps we cannot all live a Kumbaya life; that anti-semitism is real and will never go away. Humans have not yet found a way to eliminate jealousy and envy from their genetic make-up.

Well, eventually I stopped having acute symptoms of PTSD and, like all of my community over the last 28 years, started being lulled back into the LaLaLand belief that being Jewish and living in New York City was possible or even preferable…

And then, a few years ago, I woke up one day to the news that people —MY people—were again being physically and verbally attacked in our own neighborhood.

That included me, my husband, my children, my friends, and neighbors….I could no longer pretend that my neighborhood was “safe”. And, unlike the Pogrom of 1991, the hostility was not limited to just Crown Heights, but to Jews across America.

The Rebbe often said that what happened in Eretz Yisrael was felt in Crown Heights. After the 1991 Pogrom, it became clear to me what that meant. Just as Eretz Yisrael has “borders” and “unsafe areas,” so does Crown Heights. Just as Jews in Eretz Yisrael live with their Non-Jewish neighbors in an uneasy “peace,” so do the Jews of Crown Heights. Just as the Jews of Eretz Yisrael experience miracles and salvation when they are united as one people, even with their vast differences, so do the Jews of Crown Heights experience such miracles when we are united with Achdus and Ahavas Yisrael….

This is the lesson that I have learned from my years of living here: All of the people of Israel (wherever they are) will be rewarded with peace if we are united. G-d will shower his blessings upon us if we learn to love the spark of Holiness inside each one of us, no matter what we happen to look like on the outside.


  1. Why would you want to stay somewhere like that? Come to Eretz Yisroel and live among Jews.

  2. Thank you for writing this. With anti-Semitism I find it the hardest to not doubt myself and what I’m doing. Somehow the fear and threat to my body doesn’t register in the same way. But I start thinking “if people say things like that, maybe there is something wrong with me?”. I sometimes wonder if it’s that doubt which then turns us against each other because we don’t have the self-confidence to co-exist but need to feel better by thinking someone else is “too religious/not religious enough/doesn’t dress like they should/parent/eat/drive as they should”. etc. Whereas when we live together in peace we are saying we love the whole Jewish people and what we are and somehow it makes it easier to deal with abuse as well (also I have found non-Jews see me more positively when I show more self-confidence without being pushy and stick to my values but it’s not always so easy)

  3. BH yes surely Ahavat Yisrael is the very essence….but I find it impossible to accept that the situation of the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael is the same as those in America (or any where in the Galut) …. Because now BSD any Jew can come live in the Land Hashem promised us…because we pray for the return to Zion, and yet today we can all live here…. I am not judging any one, half of my immediate family is in NJ and England…. The move here is surely overladen with i stacked and difficulties… But we have already been told that this is so, but true emunah is greater than any obstacle… My heart goes out to you, and as one Jew to another I feel your pain and fear and beg of you to come home… With all my love…

  4. if all those large and beautiful families came to live in israel they would bring a lot to am israel instead of suffering in galut! galut is a choice today the place of a jew iw in israel and then our enemies will be minority!

  5. Bs”d
    Wow, what a Strong post and unfotunately I have to say that it’s not.only in Crown Heights or New York but all over. With regard to Keren’s comment I agree and feel that insecurity sometimes, but on a positive note to action I think a person could think ,when confronted with antisemtitism, how can I be better? How can I do Teshuva? Or bring more light to the world? And at the same time think how to act in the best way to protect myself and my family. By natural.means. and that maybe means calling the police or jewish bitajon,? May we all share good news

  6. In all my 25 years in Israel in many different areas both as a secular Jew and a visibly religious one I have never once personally experienced any kind of anti semitism in any form whatsoever. But I can count on more than two hands the times that Arabs have told me that they love Israel or that they dont want to be part of a Palestinian state and have even had conversations with Arab women who compliment me on my head covering! Baruch Hashem bli ayin ra… in addition I know that if something were to happen the police are JEWISH and the army is JEWISH and that I live in a country who’s raison detre is to protect Jews from having to live with antisemitism!! And yes, while there are Terrible and tragic terrorist attacks we do not live in danger of wondering if our children will be attacked on their way home from school or insulted on public transport. I am so deeply shocked and saddened to hear how bad the situation has gotten in New York. It used to be my dream holiday destination. Not any more….. I’m sticking to where I can be a proud and visible Jew without any fear.

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