Man Is Stabbed and Slashed Steps Away From a Synagogue in New York – The New York Times

Posted By on November 22, 2019

An Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed and slashed in a suburb near New York City on Wednesday morning, steps away from a local synagogue, and left bleeding on the ground, the police said.

The local police department said the attack was under investigation and declined to say whether they believed it was a hate crime.

Michael B. Specht, town supervisor of the suburb, Ramapo, which is in Rockland County, just north of Manhattan, said: Its certainly a possibility the attack was a hate crime.

The stabbing was an anomaly in the town, Mr. Specht said, adding, In the larger picture, its hard not to think about other attacks on people in the Jewish community.

Police Chief Brad R. Weidel did not rule out that possibility at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon but was not, at that moment, willing to say that this is a hate crime.

Could it be a hate crime? Of course, he said, but noted that the police had a legal obligation to meet before making that determination.

Rockland County has more than 320,000 residents, according to census figures from 2018. More than 31 percent of those residents are Jewish, according to the state, which also says that Rockland has the largest Jewish population, per capita, of any county in the country.

Police officials gave few details about the attack, saying that information was still being gathered. The victim, who was walking to the synagogue, was approached from behind early on Wednesday and attacked by at least one person, the police said.

At about 5:49 a.m., officers responded to a call at Howard Drive in Monsey, which is within the town of Ramapo, and found the victim with multiple wounds.

It was a vicious, violent attack, Chief Weidel said.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to Westchester Medical Center, the police said. Mr. Specht said he was in critical condition.

Chief Weidel said the police were reviewing video from the nearby area but declined to release a description of any suspects. He said he needed time to confirm the details before releasing it publicly.

Aron Hershkowitz, a manager at the Toshnad Heichel Torah Utfila, said the attack was captured on two of the synagogues 40 surveillance cameras.

Mr. Hershkowitz said footage from the cameras showed a vehicle stopping near a man walking toward the synagogue. Then, he says, someone hopped out from the driver side of the vehicle and attacked the person, who was beaten for a few minutes and left on the ground.

Minutes after the attack, Mr. Hershkowitz said a person came into the synagogue to alert them about the man on the ground, which prompted him to call 911.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement that he was sending members of the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation and examine all potential motives, including whether the attack may have been motivated by anti-Semitism.

Mr. Specht said additional police patrols would be added throughout the area in response to the incident.

In 2016, the last year figures were available online, eight hate crimes were committed in Rockland County, three of which were reported by the police in Ramapo.

State Senator David Carlucci, whose district includes Ramapo, said in a statement, This act of violence is horrific and not reflective of our peaceful community.

A $10,000 reward is being offered by the Anti-Defamation League in exchange for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the attack. In a statement, Evan R. Bernstein, the New York and New Jersey regional director of the organization, called the attack truly horrifying.

Mr. Bernstein said that people needed to condemn the attack and also work as a community to stem the tide of hatred and violence.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

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Man Is Stabbed and Slashed Steps Away From a Synagogue in New York - The New York Times

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