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When Hate Hits Home: This High School Student Says She Was Targeted For Being Jewish

Hana Epstein, a high school student living in Katonah, NY recently received something in her mailbox that wasn’t mail- but instead a painful reminder that hate is still alive in the world.

In the early morning hours of January 25, Hana’s father went out to get the mail out of the family’s mailbox. He realized their mezuzahs had fallen off near the front door.

Hana’s dad continued to the mailbox where he discovered a white object that he thought was some kind of food lid.

After further inspection, he suddenly realized what it really was; a white square covered in swastikas. The name “Hannah” is also written across the square, with the last h underlined twice with a blue pen. The connection suddenly became evident. 

“I was basically numb, I couldn’t really let it sink it just yet,” Hana Epstein said. “I’ve always heard of hate crimes being committed against Jews, but never in a million years did I think this would happen to me particularly.”

Hana lives in a neighborhood that is predominantly Jewish, so it was very unusual for something like this to happen.

“I had a wide array of emotions,” Hana’s mom Mara Gross Epstein said in a phone interview with RISE NEWS. “I was upset and angry and concerned for my daughter’s well-being. I was also amazed that this happened in Katonah, of all places.”

It took time for Hana to realize that there are hateful people in the world.

The entire episode created a sense of unease in the young student. She wasn’t able to sleep in her own house that night.

She looked around her room, looking at her Israeli flags and other tokens that reminded her of who she was. She said she could never understand why someone would do this to her just because she was part of a different religion.


Hana was so upset she went to her cousin’s house and missed the next day of school.

Eventually Hana said that she realized there is a lesson to be taken away from this.

“I always have been as proud to be Jewish as I am,” Hana said. “I don’t hide the fact that I’m Jewish, Judaism means the world to me. Now, more than ever, it’s essential that I stand up for who I am.”

Hana wants to spread awareness about the terrible crimes committed by anti-semitic people all around the world.

She posted a picture on social media of her wearing a Tallit (a holy garment) on top of Masada in Israel; the caption was “I’ll always be proud to be Jewish.”

Hana Epstein is a high school student in New York state. Photo Credit: Submitted.

Hana Epstein wearing a tall it on top of Masada in Israel. Photo Credit: Submitted.

Starting in September, Hana will be spending a year abroad in Israel where she hopes to share her experience.

The family said that they have reported the incident to local police.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Submitted.

Person Who Lobbed School Bomb Threat Hoax At NYC Was Likely A Weird “Homeland” Fan

New York City officials dismissed the bomb threat its own public schools and Los Angeles schools received Monday as a hoax likely concocted by a fan of the Showtime drama “Homeland.” New York City public schools did not close down any of its campuses Tuesday but the same threat prompted Los Angeles Unified School District to… Read More

Autistic Boy Saves Classmate From Choking After Learning Heimlich Maneuver From Spongebob Squarepants

This is a nice story to round off your week.

The Staten Island Advance reports that a 13-year-old Autistic boy saved the life of a classmate after he performed the Heimlich maneuver on the girl who was choking on an apple piece.

The boy, Brandon Williams said that he learned the life saving technique from watching  Spongebob Squarepants.

“He picks up on things that most of us would miss, and files it all away in his head, and he can recall it all in an instant,” Williams’ dad told the Staten Island Advance“That’s how he knew instantly what to do. And we’re glad he did. We’re proud of him.”

Believe it or not, this is not the first time that Spongebob has saved the life of a 7th grader.

Back in 2010, a 12 year old named Miriam Starobin saved the life of her best friend in a seventh-grade choir class. Starobin’s friend Allyson Golden, had been choking on a piece of bubblegum before the Spongebob inspired action saved the day.

WATCH: Hero Brandon Williams (Via Staten Island Advance)

Cover Photo Credit: Ben W/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

New York Police Chief Apologizes To James Blake

By Allyn Farach

Retired tennis star James Blake claimed that he was tackled outside of a Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York this week by a plainclothes officer.

Blake told other media outlets that he was acting nonviolently but was met with violence from officers after a sting operation mistakenly took Blake as a suspect.

“You’d think they could say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something. I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s not even close (to be okay). It’s blatantly unnecessary. You would think at some point they would get the memo that this isn’t okay, but it seems that there’s no stopping it,” Blake told the New York Daily News.

Blake further claims that he was released when a former officer recognized him and told the police who Blake was.

The situation has been embarrassing to the NYPD and its leadership.

“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident. Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues,” NYPD Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said in a press release. “Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”

New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio has signaled his intention to talk to Blake about the matter.

It is unclear what role Blake’s arrest will have in the continued evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Photo Credit: Josué Goge/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Former NYC Police Chief Claims There’s A “Ferguson Effect” Hurting Police Work

Earlier this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” television program, former New York police chief Ray Kelly said that New York City was in danger of slipping back to a period of high crime and that police officers were scared of properly doing their jobs because of a “Ferguson effect”.

The comments came during a conversation with Kelly over Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s policies.

Joe Scarborough, a former republican Congressman and host of the show asked Kelly if he believed there to be a “Ferguson effect”, referencing the fallout from the killing of an unarmed black teenager in a St. Louis suburb.

“Absolutely,” Kelly said in response to Scarborough’s question. “Ironically of course, Daryl Wilson was totally exonerated by the Justice Department. We talk about Ferguson but a lot of people forget that fact.”

Bill Gallo funeral mass

Kelly went on to explain his reasoning.

“The Ferguson effect is that police officers… are thinking twice before they engage. And with the advent of [body] cameras, which I ultimately support cameras are going to make officers hesitate somewhat. In some people’s minds that’s good, in some people’s minds that’s bad. But I think you’re experiencing now reluctance for police to do what they’ve done in the last 20 years. Crime is down dramatically in other parts of the country, I attribute it to smarter policing proactive policing. You’re seeing a backing off from that for a variety of reasons.

“I think everybody has to be concerned of that possibility,” Kelly said when asked if he feared if the city would slide back to a period of high crime associated with the late 1980’s. “Bill Bratton is a top flight professional but the mayor sets the tone.”

Kelly refused to slam the door on a possible mayoral run when asked by show host.

“I’m happy right now with what I’m doing,” Kelly said.

Cover Photo Credit: Vincent/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Body Photo Credit: MarineCorps NewYork/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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