New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is traveling to Israel in a gesture of solidarity spurred by acts of anti-Semitism at Jewish cemeteries, college campuses and community centers across the nation.
Cuomo announced the trip Wednesday during a speech to Orthodox Jewish students, parents and teachers advocating at the Capitol for increased funding for religious schools.
The event was organized by the Orthodox Union, a nonprofit Jewish group with a key focus on nonpublic school education.
"I want to say to the people of Israel and I want to say to the Jewish community, 'In New York, you are not alone, and every person in the state of New York with any decency and understanding of what it means to be a New Yorker stands with you at this moment,'" Cuomo said.
Cuomo denounced local and national incidents of vandalism and threats as "repugnant," echoing a speech he gave earlier Wednesday at the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center.
New York has the largest Jewish population of any city outside of Israel. Cuomo, who last visited Israel in 2014, said the visit this weekend will focus on economic development, technology and security collaboration with Israeli leaders. The expedition is paid for with state funds through a 2015 initiative for trade missions to Mexico, Canada, Italy, China, and Cuba.
Cuomo, who attended a Catholic high school, told the crowd of nonpublic school advocates that religious schools are necessary for a thriving education system. Cuomo last week proposed an additional $25 million for security at religious schools to combat hate crimes, in addition to the $181 million his budget for nonpublic schools.