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Rabbis and reverends, imams, shieks and elected and community leaders braved frigid temperatures to gather on the plaza of Queens Borough Hall Sunday afternoon to rally against hate and bigotry. Calling Queens “the most diverse area in the world,” Borough President Melinda Katz described Queens as “a welcoming home lled with opportunities.”

With the timeless call of the shofar and the beat of drums, leaders of Queens communities stood shoulder to shoulder. “What a ects one of us a ects us all. We’re all standing together,” said Katz. “We are standing together against hate and bias. We need to make sure that, throughout the country, folks can hear us!”

Congressman Gregory Meeks reminded that diversity makes America the great country that it is. “We stand together,” said the congressman. “We don’t build walls…We knock walls down and we build bridges to and for one another.”

Newly elected Congressman Tom Suozzi noted the vast opportunities afforded his father, an immigrant, an American airman and a Harvard Law

School graduate who said his goal was “to be a great American.” “If we stick together…America will remain the greatest country in the world.”

Letitia James, public advocate of the city of New York, declared that “hate will not be the new normal!…Democracy demands the ability to raise our voices.” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer recalled his family’s immigrant history, noting that his grandmother arrived “with ve dollars in her pocket” and built a successful future.

Recalling the “promise my grandparents found in this country,” Rabbi Jerry Stillman quoted Jewish poet Emma Lazarus’ words inscribed on the base of the “Lady of the Harbor.” The Rabbi said, “When all is said and done, we are each other’s security blanket.” The rabbi raised his shofar, and with a full blast, raised “a call to spiritual awakening—a sign to be aware of what’s happening in front of your eyes.”

Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, member of the North American Board of Rabbis, calling Katz “our Esther,” said, “We are people that represent a philosophy that believes in people…we will not fear and we will overcome.”

With greetings in some of the many languages of Queens, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council Michael Nussbaum warned of the cloud descending across this nation—one that instills fear and uses alternative facts. “There has to be truth told from our leaders’ lips. It is a great problem when we can’t trust the truth coming out of Washington,” cautioned Nussbaum. “Hate crimes—the spewing of hate, the spewing of division in this country—have been unheard of…. No one in Washington is lifting us up. A leader must give us hope, not despair Look to the future. Don’t give up hope!”

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