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Lawmakers, Community Step Up Response Amid New Reports Of Anti-Semitic Attacks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Jewish people say they are living in fear after a spike in anti-Semitic attacks.

According to the NYPD, there were 229 such crimes in New York City last year alone. That's more than all other hate crimes combined.

That number was also about 20 percent higher than 2018, when there were 185.

On Thursday, the NYPD charged a 24-year-old woman overnight in an anti-Semitic attack against a young Jewish man in Williamsburg.

Police said the 22-year-old victim was assaulted shortly before 1 p.m. on Wednesday. It was the 13th reported anti-Semitic hate crime across the city since Dec. 23 -- the first full day of Chanukah.

"No one should have to put up with walking down the street, being concerned with how I am dressed that I may be a target of an attack," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

Thursday night, New York's new top cop told a concerned crowd of hundreds police are out in force protecting Synagogues and neighborhoods in the cross hairs of the anti Semitic crisis.

Mayor de Blasco visited Jewish leaders in Boro Park.

"We talked about the work in the office to prevent the hate crimes, we talked about what we're going to do in the schools," de Blasio said.

MOREThe List: Rash Of Violence Targeting NYC Jewish Community

Jasmine Lucas, 24, was charged with second-degree assault and criminal mischief in the latest incident.

Police said Lucas and another woman yelled anti-Semitic slurs at the young man around 12:45 p.m. near Broadway and Gerry Street.

"They took him and threw him down to the ground, and broke his phone and threw the phone at his head," witness Moses Weiser said.

Investigators questioned the second woman, but she was released without charges.

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The day before, a father said his 15-year-old son was riding the bus home from school in Gravesend when he was robbed at knifepoint by two men.

"They took his yarmulke off his head and they took his Earpods off his ear," said the father, Jack Hershkovich. "They pushed him, they threatened him, but then they ended up getting off the bus."

The NYPD released videos of two recent attacks, which investigators believe may have been carried out by the same group of suspects.

One shows a group approach a 56-year-old Hasidic man on Dec. 24 in Crown Heights and then knock him to the ground. Minutes later, just blocks away, a group hit another Hasidic man over the head with a folding chair.

The Guardian Angels have started patrolling the streets of Crown Heights, alongside the NYPD and state troopers.

"If they're going to attack Jews, they're going to pay the price," Curtis Sliwa, of the Guardian Angels said. "They're starting to call the Guardian Angels, as they did in the '70s, '80s and early-'90s. We shouldn't have to go back to that period of time. We became such a better city, and now we're beginning to slip back into the abyss."

Residents said the extra security on the streets is an unfortunate-yet-necessary precaution.

"It's a sad reality, but if it's needed, and they've got to be here, it's important," Yossi Bernstein told CBS2's Nick Caloway.

"At this point, definitely we need to add in patrols. We also need to add in education," Chana Lightstone added.

"The mayor and governor, they just come and give lip service. We want to see policies that will actually keep our neighborhoods safe," Moshiach Now, of Crown Heights, said.

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Also on Thursday, members of New York's congressional delegation announced that it had secured $90 million in federal grants to protect certain at-risk nonprofits, like synagogues and churches. Grant awardees could use the funding for security guards, cameras and barricades, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

"No stone can go unturned in this effort. All levels of government, all law enforcement agencies must play their part," Rep. Max Rose said at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park.

Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Eliot Engle offered their own strong words against hate.

"We want to say to anybody who is contemplating an anti-Semitic act, cut it out!" Jeffries said.

"We're not going to sit idly by. We're not going to just allow these things to happen. But we will speak out time and time again and do more again, putting our money where our mouth is," Engle added.

When asked what kind of efforts lawmakers are making to protect people when they walk on the street every day, Rep. Rose said, "This is certainly not a silver bullet. There's so much more that needs to happen, things that we all support like expanding law enforcement presence patrols."

Leaders of the Jewish community are demanding more police patrols and cameras on the street.

"In the short term, that's going to mean what we do with the NYPD. In the long term, it's going to mean how we educate young people in particular to end this tendency towards these kinds of incidents," Mayor de Blasio said.

Residents agree educating everyone in the community about tolerance is a worthy investment, but seeing its benefit may take time.

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