The Village of New Hyde Park is discussing other options on when to host the village’s street fair, which is currently scheduled to take place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Mayor Christopher Devane said in a letter to residents.
The fair is now planned for Sept. 16, the Saturday of Rosh Hashanah, which marks the Jewish new year and starts at sundown the day before. The fair’s rainout date is currently set for Sat., Sept. 23.
A letter was sent to both Blank Slate Media and Newsday from Donald Panetta, a trustee on the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees since 2022, expressing his frustration with the date. Panetta said the village is the culprit of “blatant antisemitism.”
“Holding the street fair on one of the holiest days of the Jewish year is an insult and a slap in the face,” Panetta wrote.
Devane said the decision to host the street fair on Sept. 16 was solely his, adding it was his understanding that any conflicts between the fair, which ends at 4 p.m., and the holiday would begin on sundown Saturday and the fair would be done by then.
“It has come to my attention that some are trying to use this as a wedge issue for their own purposes,” Devane said in a statement. “Rather than discuss this issue, which is two months away, they are choosing to intentionally embarrass the Village.”
The mayor went on to defend Patricia Santomauro, who responded to Panetta’s initial inquiries with Devane’s full approval he said, saying the village was advised the holiday begins at sundown and there were no alternate dates available.
“A great amount of consideration went into this decision as our wish is not to offend anyone. We were advised that the holiest of the holiday is during sundown hours. Also, unfortunately, there are no alternate dates available as the vendors would be attending other street fairs the weekends after the 16th. We do hope those that can join us will,” Santomauro said in full.
Devane said the Panetta letter, which excludes the first sentence from Santomauro’s email to him about not wanting to offend anyone, was “twisted” to make the village look like it doesn’t care about the Jewish community.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Devane, who pointed out “the Village Board is actively discussing other options” for the street fair.
Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, holds significant historical and cultural importance in the Jewish faith. With origins dating back thousands of years, the solemn holiday marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance, leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
The Hebrew calendar is a synergy between the solar and lunar calendars, which can lead to holidays being on different days, Chabad of Great Neck Rabbi Osher Kravitsky said.
“Rosh Hashanah is widely celebrated even by the non-religious or non-observant population among the Jewish community,” Kravitsky said. “Most of the community would not be able to attend a street fair because they would be too busy.”
The last time Rosh Hashanah began on Friday was in 2020.