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Transcript: Mayor Adams Hosts Reception Celebrating Jewish Heritage Month

May 31, 2023

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Mayor Eric Adams: Wow. Wow. Look at this crowd. Look at this crowd, seeing good friends, Joe, really good seeing you, your family, Josh. You know this is, this is such an important celebration. As we come in and acknowledge Jewish heritage during this time of the year. The other day I was at CUNY Law School, and the graduates, some of them stood up, and they turned their backs because I was a former police officer. And I left the day... I left before the keynote speakers. And I later learned what was her speech. And I want to tell you something. One of the most devastating parts of our history is when people remain in the room and allow people to desecrate others. I would tell you, if I was on that stage when those comments were made, I would've stood up and denounced them immediately, because we cannot allow that.

And now I know why they turned their backs on me, because I will never turn my back on you. I will never turn my back on the men and women of our military service. I will never turn my back on the men and women who are part of the New York City Police Department. I will never turn my back on people who are in this city, and make this city what it is. The silence that we are seeing in the midst of the hate we are experiencing will never be the silence that will be in City Hall, as long as I'm the mayor of New York City, that is not acceptable.

We must raise our voices. We must send a loud message that our secret weapon is our ability to live among each other. And hidden in the crevices of this community is a powerful term called "mitzvah." Built into your culture is giving back. If you look in the history of the relationship in general of what you do for America, but specifically for the African American community, that became an enriched relationship with the Jewish community.

The Civil Rights Movement was about the embodiment of the Jewish community and African American struggle. We are the same. We've gone through the same journeys together. All over the globe, what you have endured is no different than what African Americans have endured all over the globe. We are connected in our struggles to build a better environment, and a better city, and a better country. I am so proud to be the mayor of the Tel Aviv of America that we call New York City. We are the largest Jewish population outside of Tel Aviv.

And these trips that I've taken to Israel, and Michael Villa and his family showing us the beauty of what Israeli people have shown, this is a great community and you represent what's great about the greatest race alive, and that's the human race.

We have so much to be proud of here in this city. We have so much we must continue to fight for. And our honorees today personify what's great about this city. And don't let anyone kid you. New York City is not coming back; New York City is back. The city is back. We're resilient and you can never defeat America because you can never defeat New York City.

And this large gathering of so many of you who are my friends, this community stood strong for me, unwavering. It was very clear who they wanted to be the mayor of this city. You knew me as the state senator fighting on your behalf. You knew me as the borough president, and you know me as the mayor. I took the trip to Greece to combat antisemitism with other mayors across the globe because I know they come for you today, they come for me tomorrow and we must stop the progress of hatred that we are experiencing.

I think of the joke of the two hunters in the jungle hunting for a lion. They come up against a lion and one of the hunters said: "We need to run." And the other hunter said: "We can't outrun the lion." And the hunter replied: "I don't have to outrun the lion, I just have to outrun you." And I laughed when I heard that, but then I thought about it for a moment. We cannot outrun each other because if the lion devours you, that lion is still in the jungle of life. We must make sure that we come together and defeat the lion of crime, the lion of antisemitism, the lion of homelessness, the lion attacking your yeshivas, the lion of going up against each other. The goal is not to outrun the lion, the goal is to get the lion out of our jungle so we can live in a level of safety and prosperity that we deserve.

So I don't have to outrun you. I want to join you, I want to embrace you. I want to learn of your culture and your understanding. That is why we did Breaking Bread, Building Bonds, so we can sit around the table together and send the message of the beauty of our diversity and what we offer to each other. We need each other so much. We can learn from each other.

And that is what this experience is about when we come under this big tent on Gracie Mansion, The People’s House. We learn from folks like you, Eleanor, and what it is to grow up as a young Jewish girl in the city, from Israel. We learn from you, Joe [inaudible] and what your family is, coming together. Rabbi Potasnik and Joel Eisdorfer who have watched each one of his children grow up. We learn from each other.

And I'm so excited about what we are because I believe for the first time in history, there's an army of people that says we are not going to surrender to hate. We're not going to allow hate to define us. And we're not going to allow those who believe that they can divide us. We are united. And that unification is going to determine who we are going to be as a nation, the greatest country on the globe because this is the greatest city on the globe.

There's something special about being a New Yorker. There's something that we represent that's unique to this country and I believe we need to lean into that and not be embarrassed about the quality of life that we have created. No one is lining the borders of this country to leave. They're lining the borders of this country to come in. We have a good product. We are made up of the best stuff on earth. We're New Yorkers, we're Americans, and we believe in what this country stands for. I thank you for coming here tonight under our big tent to be a part of this Jewish heritage celebration.

So I want to bring on someone I've learned to respect and admire, our new acting consul general of the state of Israel, Israel Nitzan, to say a few words.

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