Rev. Al Sharpton was invited to speak at the East Side Synagogue in New York City on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday marked earlier this week. Sharpton was also presented with a shofar as a gift by the synagogue’s clergy.
He is widely considered an anti-Semite following his central role in inciting the infamous 1991 Crown Heights riots. Those riots began on August 19th, 1991 in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, location of the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, after an African-American child named Gavin Cato was hit and killed accidentally by a motorcade that was transporting Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Shortly afterward, a young yeshiva student named Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed and lynched by twenty African-American men while shouting “Kill the Jew!” Three days of rioting followed the incident. Mobs of African-Americans attacked Jews, looted Jewish businesses, and damaged homes and cars that belonged to Jews. It reportedly took some 1,800 police officers to quell the riot.
Sharpton was blamed for inciting the riots when he referred to the Jews as “diamond merchants” and said that Cato was killed by “the social accident of apartheid.”
He organized a large march through the Jewish area, at which slogans such as “Death to the Jews!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” were chanted. The riot left 152 police officers and 38 civilians injured, 27 cars destroyed, seven Jewish stores vandalized, and 225 robberies committed.
An online petition has been launched that is calling for a boycott of the East Side Synagogue and an apology from the synagogue to the family of Yankel Rosenbaum.. “How dare you invite this evil man to your synagogue, give him a podium, and even grant him a ritual object as a gift?” the petition asks. “You should beg forgiveness from Yankel Rosenbaum’s family. Until then, no Jew with any conscience should give you any money, participate in any of your activities, or walk through your accursed doors,” it adds.