As they gathered in solidarity with the Mid-Island Y JCC for a candlelit vigil last week, the Plainview-Old Bethpage community already showed that it will not tolerate hate and discrimination.
When anti-Semitic chalk messages were found scrawled in Haypath Park on Feb. 25, the Plainview Moms Facebook group mobilized and not only had the hateful language scrubbed, but enlisted neighborhood children to add their own messages of tolerance, love and acceptance the next day.
“Haypath is where my kids grew up playing with their friends, so this felt extremely personal,” said Rebecca Davis, a Plainview mom with two boys in sixth- and seventh-grade at Mattlin Middle School. “I hoped some people would show up, and we ended up with 50 families on the ground, drawing in chalk messages of love. We even had Supervisor [Joseph] Saladino there on the ground in his suit drawing hearts.”
The colorfully positive messages replaced “PlainJew” and other graffiti too vile for reprinting—graffiti that Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia had removed the same day it was discovered.
Davis said the situation proved to be an important teachable moment for local youngsters—and also served to solidify Plainview-Old Bethpage as a community that promotes tolerance of all individuals.
“Exclusionary behavior is learned,” said Davis. “We need to explain to our children, whatever party their parents are, that we are all one. It doesn’t matter what color someone is or what religion they are or what their gender is. We are all humans.”