Several newspaper boxes distributing Jewish publications in Queens, New York, were defaced with swastikas on Oct. 6, 2022, while the Jewish community observed Yom Kippur.
Bukharian Jewish Link freelance journalist Steven Saphirstein told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he discovered the vandalized boxes outside of Aron’s Kissena Farms on Oct. 7 while distributing papers. Aron’s, the largest kosher grocery store in Queens, was closed at the time of the incident. Saphirstein told the Tracker he met with detectives after reporting the incident.
The targeted boxes contained Jewish newspapers including the Queens Jewish Link, the Bukharian Jewish Link and the Five Towns Jewish Times. Yaakov Serle, publisher for the Queens and Bukharian Jewish Links, told the Tracker that the newspapers were still able to publish normally that day.
“We were very fortunate,” Serle said. “Everybody came together, and – by shopping time — it was all gone.”
Serle said several community members teamed up to clean the newspaper boxes before Aron’s opened for the day. He credits Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, Saphirstein and local Jewish groups Chaverim and Shmira with playing an instrumental role in the cleanup.
In a statement to the Chronicle, Rosenthal said that while no one was physically harmed by the attack, the antisemitism distressed residents who were fed up with the broken sense of security and seeking action.
“On the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, newspaper racks distributing Jewish publications were vandalized with swastikas,” Rosenthal wrote on Twitter. “We must be able to feel safe in our neighborhoods. We must do more. The continued rise of antisemitism is unsustainable and unacceptable.”
The New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment by the Tracker, but Rosenthal told the Chronicle that officers are reviewing security camera footage from neighboring businesses.
Editor's note: The article was updated to include information from Steven Saphirstein and his correct title.