Community rebukes anti-Semitism following Monsey machete attack


By Keith Shikowitz

The past couple of months have seen a multitude of anti–Semitic attacks in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Jersey City.

Monsey can now be added to the list as Saturday night at the home of Rabbi Rottenberg, aka Rabbi Rottenberg’s Shul, an assailant entered the home where Hanukah candle lighting had just taken place and began stabbing people with a machete. Within a few hours Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake was arrested in connection with the attack.

At a press conference Sunday the Israeli Ambassador to the United States spoke to the press first in Hebrew and then in English. “What we saw now has to be the last time. That’s what I told your Hebrew colleagues. When I came to this country 3.5 years ago to serve to represent Israel in my darkest nightmares I didn’t expect these were the kinds of tasks I’d have to fulfill. I spent a week in Pittsburgh, which is also my jurisdiction, in October ’18. That is an experience I will not forget until the last day of my life. Just a few weeks ago I was together with Governor Murphy in Jersey City. I saw a small cramped room in which 53 Jewish children were hidden for four hours when the bullets were all over, not knowing what their fate would be. And now here with a machete, trying to kill Jews. This is something, like I said, in my darkest nightmares, I didn’t expect.”

He said he isn’t implying that we are in a similar situation to Germany of the 30s. “NO. We are very far from that.”

He added that there is one difference between us and the people from then. “It is that now we are experienced. We know where anti – Semitism can lead. What catastrophic consequences this kind of hatred can bring. When we say, usually never again, I think it should be clear to everybody that never again is now.”

Aron Weider, Rockland County legislator also spoke at the press conference. He said, “What’s even sadder is that in Rockland County we have an open – door policy. You have a synagogue right over here (pointing to his left) where people can just walk in and out. Even if you’re not a member. Perhaps people will think about it twice, which is a change of lifestyle, which is very sad.”

“I was not here when it happened. I came here afterwards.” He paused, looking over at the synagogue. I saw what everyone else who came here last night saw, a community in terrible distress. A community that is in fear of something like this can happen here can happen anywhere. We have an open door policy and when you have bad people who take advantage of something like that kind of puts fear in your mind, especially if people are not used to this.

Town of Ramapo PD said that today at about 11:45 a.m. Thomas was brought before Judge Schoenberger in Ramapo Town Court. He was arraigned on five counts of Attempted Murder, and one (1) count of Burglary. Bail was set at Five Million Dollars. Mr. Thomas was subsequently transported to the Rockland County Jail by officers from the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department. Ramapo PD is investigating this case and we are being assisted by our law enforcement partners including the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, the New York State Police, the NYPD, and the FBI.

Reactions from the community:

Statement from Rockland County Executive Ed Day

Getting such a horrific call in the midst of a local holiday celebration is a stark reminder that even in a community as good and serene as ours, evil can visit us. The response of law enforcement was immediate and effective in tracking down this suspect and apprehending him in New York City. We all acknowledge and applaud that effort.

Violence of any kind will not be tolerated here in Rockland. I stand with the people of this County in condemning this attack and ask all to offer their thoughts, hopes and prayers for a speedy recovery for the victims of this heinous crime. As a former Police Commander, people need to know that law enforcement in Rockland will leave no stone unturned as they bring those guilty of this crime to swift and severe justice. As Moses Kahan, an Orthodox Jewish community activist in New York and New Jersey, stated, “County Executive Ed Day and incoming District Attorney Thomas Walsh will not give into the haters and violent criminals.” That is something all can count on.

Statement By Rockland County Legislature Chairman Toney L. Earl On The Attack On Innocent Victims In Monsey

“I am sickened by the attack on our Jewish neighbors in Monsey and condemn it in the strongest possible way. I am praying for a speedy recovery for the innocent victims and for their families during this most difficult of times.

“Our neighbors gathered to celebrate the joys that the light of Hanukkah brings and now they, and good people everywhere, are left shocked and hurting as we grapple to identify a reason for this hateful act. 

“I stand proudly and strongly with my Jewish brothers and sisters and know that together, we shall overcome the bigotry, hatred, racism and anti-Semitism that keeps trying to tighten its grip on us all.” 

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee’s statement on Monsey Attack 

Late Saturday night on the 7th night of Hanukkah five people were attacked at Rabbi Rottenberg’s home in Monsey, NY.  This attack is a nightmare for our community. 

In our nation, hate crimes are rising. Those who fan the flames of ethnic, racial, and religious hatred to increase their own power and to fuel their own ambition must understand that their words and actions can cause incidents such as this.  

As chair for the Committee on Children and Families, I believe it is critical for our families to feel safe in their communities.  To this particular community and to the greater Monsey community, it is vital that the investigation be thorough and precise and go beyond the arrest of a suspect. It must go into the full circumstances of this incident, including the motives behind it.  I strongly support efforts by law enforcement, including the Ramapo Police and the State Police, to fully investigate this crime and will aid them in any way I can. 

Israeli Ambassador

Statement from Senator David Carlucci

“The horrific act of mass violence at a rabbi’s home in Monsey yesterday, during Hanukkah, has shaken the very foundation of our community. We are all deeply disturbed by the the perpetrator’s callus actions and disregard for human life.

Words matter, and we must call this hateful act on our Jewish community domestic terrorism. We must all unite and be forceful in denouncing hate and anti-Semitism any time we see it. Hate sadly continues to plague our society and pull at the moral fabric of who we are as Americans. It is more important than ever, that no stone go unturned when it comes to solutions to ending hateful rhetoric and anti-Semitic attacks. No one is born hating others, it is a learned behavior, and it needs to be addressed.

The State Police hate crimes task force is investigating this act of domestic terror. I thank our brave members of law enforcement who responded to the scene and who our patrolling our synagogues today out of an abundance of caution. No one should have to worship in fear in this country, and I encourage residents to go about their daily lives.

I thank the members of the Jewish community who have been comforting residents in this time of grief. We pray for the victims and their families.”

Statement from NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy on the Rockland County Synagogue Attack

“I am shocked, saddened and angered by the stabbing attack in a Rockland County synagogue on Saturday evening. New York has seen an alarming escalation of attacks on Jews in recent weeks. I urge all our elected officials to call out anti-Semites and anti-Semitism, and for our law enforcement to throw its full weight against this rise in hate. To our friends in the Jewish community, we stand with you.” 

Joint statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo & over 130 faith leaders from across the state

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a joint statement with over 130 faith leaders from across the state condemning anti-Semitism in wake of attack that took place during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey last night. Last night’s mass stabbing is the latest in a disturbing rash of anti-Semitic attacks throughout the state during the Hanukkah holiday. 

“Anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate of any kind are repugnant to our values and will not be tolerated in our state. We condemn this attack and all attacks against members of the Jewish community in New York — an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. Together we will continue fighting hate and intolerance with love and inclusion.” 

The list of faith leaders and groups who are supporting the Governor’s statement includes: 

  • Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
  • Rev. Al Sharpton 
  • Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
  • Rev. Dr.  Floyd & Elaine Flake, Greater Allen AME
  • Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Diocese of Broolyn
  • Rev. Dr. A.R. Bernard, Christian Cultural Center 
  • Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, New York Board of Rabbis
  • Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church
  • Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Grace Baptist Church in Mt Vernon, NY
  • Mayor Izzy Spitzer, Village of New Square
  • Rabbi Michael Miller, Jewish Community Relations Council 
  • Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Congregation KJ 
  • Steve Gold, Co-President, Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County
  • David Kirschtel, CEO, Jewish Community Center Rockland County 
  • Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President, Orthodox Union 
  • The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche, Episcopal Bishop of New York
  • Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Agudath Israel of America 
  • Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, CBST
  • Rabbi Rachel Kohn Troster, Truah 
  • Rabbi Hersh Horowitz, Monsey Community Outreach Center
  • Michael Schmidt, American Jewish Committee AJC NY
  • Eric Goldstein, CEO, UJA 
  • Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Park East Synagogue
  • Rabbi Elchanan Poupko, EITAN-The American-Israel Network
  • MPAC-NY, Mobilizing Preachers & Communities 
  • Rev. James Duckett, Fort Mott Baptist Church 
  • Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green, Mt. Neboh Baptist Church
  • Bishop Orlando Findlayter, New Hope Christian Fellowship
  • Rev. Al Cockfield, God’s Battalion of Prayer Church
  • Rev. Gil Monrose, Mt. Zion Church of God 7th Day & President of 67th Precinct Clergy Council
  • Rev. Steve Lopez, Associate Pastor, Calvary Center Church 
  • Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President of Union Theological Seminary
  • Rev. Dr. Renee Washington Gardner, Memorial Baptist Church 
  • Pastor Wayne Francis, Lead Pastor, Authentic Church
  • Rev. Greg Merriweather, Calvary Baptist Church in Haverstraw
  • Omar Siddiqi, Leader of Community/Religious Affairs, Osmanli Dergah 
  • Rev. Roderick Pearson, St. Mark Remnant Ministries, Inc. 
  • Rabbi Howard Beuchler, Dix Hills Jewish Center 
  • Dr. Isma Chaudry, Islamic Center of Long Island 
  • Imam Abdul-Rahman Yaki, Islamic Center of the Capital District
  • Bishop Max Jones, Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ Syracuse
  • Pastor Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, Rochester 
  • Pastor Kinzer M. Pointer, Agape Fellowship Baptist Church and Convener of the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York
  • Rev. Dr. Phil Craig, Greater Springfield Community Church 
  • Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov, Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavit Achim
  • Mendy Mirocznik, Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island
  • Imam Tahir Kukiqi, NYPD Chaplains Unit and Vice President of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center 
  • Phyllis Walker, Homeless Outreach Specialist, Brooklyn Tabernacle Church
  • Rabbi Dr. Keith Elijah Thompson, Bronx Miracle Gospel Tabernacle
  • Rabbi Aaron Slonim, Chabad at Binghamton
  • Bishop Darius Pridgen, True Bethel Baptist Church
  • Rabbi Chaim Schwartz, Executive Vice President, Vaad Harabonim of Queens 
  • Rabbi Deborah K. Bravo, MakomNY Founder and Treasurer of the NY Board of Rabbis 
  • Rev. Patrick Young, First Baptist Church of Corona 
  • Rabbi Joshua Stanton, East End Temple
  • Hussein Rababah, PACE Director, NY Muslim American Society (MAS)
  • Rev. Jim Bostic, New Union Church of New Rochelle, Youth Pastor
  • Rev. Patrick O’Connor, First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica
  • Bishop T. Anthony Bronner, Elim Christian Fellowship
  • Bishop Angel Gauthier, Prince of Peace Christian Church
  • Rev. Mike Servello, Compassion Coalition Utica
  • Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi, Executive Director, India Home
  • Rabbi Scott Weiner, Senior Rabbi Temple Israel of New Rochelle
  • Rabbi Beth Nichols, Temple Israel of New Rochelle
  • Eliot Forcheimer, CEO, Westchester Jewish Council 
  • Lisa Roberts, President, Westchester Jewish Council 
  • Rabbi Mendy Hurwitz, Chabad of Yonkers
  • Rev. James Galasinski, Unitarian Universalist Church, Canton NY
  • Rabbi Andrew Pepperstone, Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas 
  • Rabbi Daniel Fellman, Temple Concord Syracuse
  • Rabbi Daniel Jezer, emeritus at Congregation Beth Solom-Chevra Shas
  • Rabbi Peter Schaktman, Temple Emanu-El in Utica 
  • Rabbi Eli Goodman, Chabad of the Beaches
  • Rabbi Anchelle Perl, Chabad of Mineola
  • Rev. Demetrius Carolina, Central Family Life Center
  • Rev. Sedgwick Easley, Union Baptist Church of Hempstead
  • Rev. Dr.  Adolphus Lacey, Bethany Baptist Church 
  • Rev. Shaun Lee, Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church 
  • Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
  • Rev. Bruce Grodner, National Exec Director, American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC)
  • Dr. Lionel Rouse, Co-Chairman, American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) 
  • Babu Kudaravalli, President Telugu Literary and Cultural Association
  • Rev. Kate Jones Calone, Interim Pastor, Setauket Presbyterian Church
  • Pastor David Traynham, New Horizons Christian Church
  • Imam Mohammed ElFiki, The Islamic Society of Central New York
  • Rev. Tony Baker, St. Philip’s Baptist Church
  • Rev. John Williams, New Creation Ministry, Inc.  
  • Pastor Carl Wauchope, City of Refuge NY 
  • Pastor Sal Sabino, Heavenly Visions 
  • Dr. Siddiqur Rahman, President, Jamaica Muslim Center 
  • Rev. Charles Galbreath, Clarendon Road Church 
  • Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Jewish Community Relations Council 
  • Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Founder & CEO, Urban Upbound 
  • Audrey Sasson, Executive Director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)
  • Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene
  • Rabbi Shea Hecht, National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education
  • Rabbi Yaacov Behrman, Jewish Future Alliance.
  • Rev. Emily McNeill, Executive Director, Labor-Religion Coalition
  • Michael Cohen, Eastern Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
  • Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, Jewish Community Center of Harrison 
  • Pastor John Carter, Abundant Life Christian Center
  • Rabbi Eli Cohen, Executive Director, Crown Heights Jewish Community Center 
  • Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, Crown Heights Jewish Community Center 
  • Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church
  • Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, Ph.D., Sub-Dean, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
  • The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, Dean, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine 
  • Rev. Canon Patti Welch, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
  • Rev. Canon Steven Lee, Canon Pastor and Vicar, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
  • Rabbi Ben Keil, Young Israel of Pelham Parkway
  • The Right Reverend Allen K Shin, Bishop Suffragan of New York
  • The Right Reverend Mary D Glasspool, Bishop Assistant of New York
  • Rabbi Neal Loevinger, Temple Beth-El, Poughkeepsie
  • Imam Ajmal Agha of the Islamic Cultural Center of Rochester
  • Avi Greenstein, CEO, Boro Park Jewish Community Council
  • Rabbi Andy Bachman, Executive Director, JCP Downtown
  • Pastor Jay A Gooding Sr., Miracle Revival Temple, Fellowship Tabernacle Ministries, Church of God In Christ, President Clergy Council 49th Precinct
  • Rev. Victor Brown, Mount Sinai United Christian Church
  • Bishop C. Nathan Edwers, Senior Pastor, Friendship Worship Center
  • Rabbi Avi Kilimnick from Congregation Beth Shalom in Rochester
  • Avi Posnick, StandWithUs
  • Elder Robert Martinez Rice, Bethel Gospel Assembly
  • Rabbi Menachem Creditor, UJA 
  • Bishop Minnie Crawford, The House of God Diocese 
  • The Rev. Delvin Moody, the House of God Church, Inc. 
  • Pastor Daren Jaime, The People’s A.M.E. ZION Church
  • Ali Javed, Chairman, Upper Westchester Muslim Society
  • Daniel Korobkin, President, Rabbinical Council of America
  • Rabbi Mark Wildes, Manhattan Jewish Experience
  • Bishop Dr. Luonne Abram Rouse, Family Church 
  • Bishop Kenrick McBean, Redeem Christian Fellowship 
  • Bro. Anthony Zuba, OFM Cap., Pastoral Associate, Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Rabbi Allen Schwartz, Congregation Ohab Zedek
  • Rabbi Daniel Sherman, West Side Institutional Synagogue

You must be logged in to post a comment Login