Local Jewish community reacts to Pittsford grad arrest

Jewish community reacts to Patrick Dai arrest

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Members of our local Jewish community are reacting to the arrest of Cornell University student Patrick Dai, calling his alleged threats an act of hate.

Dai admitted to posting threats to kill Jewish people on campus, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Stephanie Townsend, a council member for the Pittsford Town Board, said the news is personal for her, as she’s Jewish herself. She’s also an elected official, and said she has a responsibility to show concerned residents that she stands with them.

The town has had racist incidents in the past.

Townsend said the Jewish population in Pittsford is sizeable, and everybody responds differently to situations like these. Some feel unsafe, and others feel helpless.

Moving forward, she said now is the time to educate, especially young people.

Monica Gebell with Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester agrees, and said anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. She wants the community to call it out when they see it.

“Education is a major piece of the puzzle, to prevent hate,” she said. “We look to our educators to help us help kids understand where their biases are, and it’s vital that school administration take the education, the history of peoples very seriously.”

“We all need to renew our commitment, step up our action, to move from shock and fear,” said Townsend. “What are we going to do together? And ‘together’ is the key word.”

Dai graduated from Pittsford Mendon High School in 2020, and was in clubs like Model UN and Masterminds.

The district declined to comment on the accusations. The Pittsford town supervisor also declined to comment.