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Westlake Legal Group > Jews and Judaism

Bloomberg Warns of Anti-Semitism ‘Rearing Its Ugly Head’

Westlake Legal Group 26bloomberg-01-facebookJumbo Bloomberg Warns of Anti-Semitism ‘Rearing Its Ugly Head’ Presidential Election of 2020 Miami-Dade County (Fla) Jews and Judaism Israel Bloomberg, Michael R anti-semitism

AVENTURA, Fla. — Michael R. Bloomberg on Sunday addressed rising anti-Semitism and spoke personally of his Jewish heritage in a speech at a prominent synagogue near Miami, a sign that courting Jewish voters is core to his strategy of building support in Florida.

The speech was a rare instance of a major address by a Democratic presidential candidate this cycle that specifically confronted the rise in anti-Semitic attacks across the country. He spoke directly to Jewish Americans who may worry that progressive Democratic front-runners have too sharply criticized Israel or who may dislike some of President Trump’s agenda but support his Israel policy.

“The violence that has always threatened Israel is rearing its ugly head here in America, with alarming frequency,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

“The toxic culture the president has created is harming our relationship with Israel,” he said. “If I am elected, you will never have to choose between supporting Israel and supporting our values here at home.”

Mr. Bloomberg not-so-subtly sought to distinguish himself from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is also Jewish and who recently took the lead in Iowa, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll of likely caucusgoers. Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, took aim not only at Mr. Sanders’s Israel policy but also at his democratic socialism.

“Now, I know I’m not the only Jewish candidate running for president,” Mr. Bloomberg said in his speech on Sunday afternoon, delivered in a ballroom with a roving blue spotlight and Israeli techno and music by the rapper Pitbull setting the mood. “But I am the only one who doesn’t want to turn America into a kibbutz.” The audience whooped.

The crowd of several hundred people included prominent business figures, former local politicians and many with personal connections to the candidate, some of whom had traveled from New York. Ari Ackerman, an owner of the Miami Marlins baseball team, was among them, having helped to rally young Jewish support for two of Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoral runs.

“Quadrupling funding for religious institutions, creating a Holocaust program in schools so people are educated about what happened, bringing together the presidents of different universities to create a coalition to battle anti-Semitism — this is what he’s talking about,” Mr. Ackerman said.

The speech on Jewish identity was an unusual move for Mr. Bloomberg, a secular Jew who has long not been religiously observant. He has previously turned to his Judaism in competitive campaign moments, as in his 2005 mayoral re-election campaign when he addressed Hasidic Jews in Borough Park, Brooklyn, on a stage dotted with blue balloons that read “Mike the Mensch.”

While Jews make up only about 3 or 4 percent of Florida’s population, they are a critical voting group in the delegate-rich swing state. As his competitors crisscross Iowa, Mr. Bloomberg has instead looked past early voting states in hopes of picking up delegates on Super Tuesday and beyond.

He delivered his words Sunday at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, standing in front of a “United for Mike” sign, the dot of the “i” in his name replaced by a Star of David. Campaign staff members distributed an array of pins and shirts, some emblazoned with “Mishpucha for Mike” (using a Yiddish word for “family”), while platters of black-and-white cookies and rugelach were on hand nearby.

“A Jew can become president,” Philip Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach, told the crowd as he introduced the billionaire. “And, I’ll tell you something, you’re lucky — it’s not going to cost you money.”

Aventura, a small suburban city near the beach in northeast Miami-Dade County, is known as a hub for politically active Jewish Democrats in the state.

“It is important to talk to a set of people who may not know him as well,” Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, said in a phone interview.

Mr. Bloomberg spoke of personal connections to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire in 2018, killing 11 congregants. He also said that while he had initially opposed the Iran deal, he opposed Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from it, and promised to work to end Iran’s nuclear program to protect Israel and the region.

“As president, I will always have Israel’s back,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

Mr. Bloomberg has also long opposed the movement of economic boycotts and sanctions against Israel known as B.D.S., or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

The Democratic presidential candidates across the board have condemned anti-Semitism, especially after the recent attacks in Monsey, N.Y., when five people were stabbed in a Hasidic rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration and an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed while walking to synagogue. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., said his administration would devote $1 billion to combat violent extremism, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a plan to fight white nationalism; both of their plans aim to fight anti-Semitism.

But the field as a whole has not addressed the specifics of anti-Semitism enough, said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.

“We are certainly hearing about this issue more than we have before,” Mr. Greenblatt said in a phone interview. But the real question candidates must address is, he said, “How do you move from rhetoric condemning anti-Semitism to real plans rooting it out?”

Many American Jews have found themselves caught in an uncomfortable tension between traditional liberal American Jewish values and Mr. Trump’s alliance with Israel. Mr. Trump, who won 24 percent of Jewish voters in Florida in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, has also been trying to strengthen his support by making anti-Semitism and backing of Israel a partisan issue.

Mr. Sanders wrote about his Jewish identity, his relatives who were murdered by Nazis and the recent rise of anti-Semitic violence in a personal essay in November for Jewish Currents, a progressive Jewish publication. Unlike Mr. Bloomberg, he criticized what he called “false accusations of anti-Semitism” by Mr. Trump against progressives and called for the end of Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinians.

“We should be very clear that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the Israeli government,” he wrote. “We must also be honest about this: The founding of Israel is understood by another people in the land of Palestine as the cause of their painful displacement.”

That position worries some Democratic Jews across the country. “Among the Jews I talk to, Bernie is anathema,” said George Arzt, a political consultant who was press secretary to the former New York mayor Ed Koch. But Mr. Bloomberg’s views, he said, have been “lesser known.”

Evan Ross, a lobbyist and Democratic activist in Miami-Dade County who attended the event, said many Jews in the area had supported Mr. Trump’s Israel policy, even though they disliked much else about his leadership.

“There are people who are really fearful of the possibility that our party could nominate someone more extreme like Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Ross said in a phone interview. “If that happens, we might as well take Florida off the map and hand it to Donald Trump. We need a moderate.”

Patricia Halfen Wexler, a Venezuelan-American who works in venture capital and lives in Miami, said Bloomberg’s centrism made him well-suited to court Hispanic voters. “We’re not a monolith, but Hispanics generally are much more moderate than liberals imagine we are,” she said. “Seeing the trauma of what happened in Venezuela made me realize we can’t be glib about thinking crazy things couldn’t happen here. Bloomberg is by far the one I have the most confidence putting my trust in.”

Debbie Picker, who splits her time between Westchester County and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she was disappointed Mr. Bloomberg hadn’t taken questions on Sunday and wanted to know how he planned to elevate his profile in the race.

“We pay attention because we’re Jewish New Yorkers who were there for him for 12 years,” she said. “But if you were to go anywhere outside of the New York Metro and Miami Metro, I don’t think people know him.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Site That Ran Anti-Semitic Remarks Got Passes for Trump Trip

Westlake Legal Group 26trunews-facebookJumbo Site That Ran Anti-Semitic Remarks Got Passes for Trump Trip World Economic Forum White House Correspondents Assn Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J News and News Media Media Jews and Judaism Freedom of the Press Deutch, Ted (1966- ) Davos (Switzerland)

To coordinate coverage of President Trump’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the White House provided press credentials to the usual mix of American news organizations, including Fox News, Reuters and The New York Times.

One media outlet stood out: TruNews, a website aimed at conservative Christians whose founder, a pastor named Rick Wiles, recently described Mr. Trump’s impeachment as “a Jew coup” planned by “a Jewish cabal.”

Five employees of TruNews, which is based in Florida, received formal credentials from the White House to cover the president’s trip, Mr. Wiles said in an interview last week from his hotel room in Switzerland — a room in a ski lodge reserved by the Trump administration for traveling members of the American press. (Like other media organizations, TruNews paid for its flights and lodging.)

White House officials, in this and previous administrations, tend to be flexible in choosing which news organizations receive press credentials: Reporting is a form of free speech and there are no legal restrictions on who can declare themselves a journalist.

But Mr. Wiles’s ability to secure credentials after his anti-Semitic remarks — which prompted a formal rebuke from two members of Congress — has left civil rights groups deeply troubled.

“It’s a validation of their work,” said Kyle Mantyla, a senior fellow at the progressive group People for the American Way, which has tracked Mr. Wiles’s work. TruNews, he said, “sees it as the White House being on their side.”

TruNews was not granted special access to the president in Davos, nor did its members travel on Air Force One. But one of Mr. Wiles’s colleagues, Edward Szall, asked a question of the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump during a news conference.

“We want to thank President Trump and the White House for extending the invitation to be here,” Mr. Wiles said in a video from Davos. “We are honored to be here, representing the kingdom of heaven and our king Jesus Christ.”

It was not the first time TruNews has gotten close to Mr. Trump and his family.

The president took a question from Mr. Szall at a 2018 news conference in Midtown Manhattan. In March 2019, a TruNews correspondent filmed an interview with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, after a rally in Michigan. (A spokeswoman for Donald Trump Jr. told The Washington Post that the interview was impromptu and that Mr. Trump was unfamiliar with the site.)

TruNews, which Mr. Wiles founded as an online radio program in 1999 called America’s Hope, has a history of spreading conspiracy theories and proclaiming an imminent apocalypse. It drew more scrutiny in November after Mr. Wiles, in an online video, accused Jews of orchestrating Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

“That’s the way Jews work,” Mr. Wiles said. “They are deceivers. They plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda. This ‘Impeach Trump’ movement is a Jew coup, and the American people better wake up to it really fast.”

Mr. Wiles also warned his listeners that “when Jews take over a country, they kill millions of Christians.”

Afterward, Representatives Ted Deutch of Florida and Elaine Luria of Virginia, wrote to the White House asking why TruNews had been allowed to attend presidential events. They did not receive a response.

The White House declined to comment for this article. In the past, the administration has faced lawsuits after revoking press credentials from reporters from CNN and Playboy.

On the phone from Switzerland, Mr. Wiles explained how his Davos trip had come about.

“We’re on a list of media organizations at the White House and from time to time they send out notices that there are events taking place,” Mr. Wiles said, adding that his team had also covered Mr. Trump’s visits to NATO summits and Group of 20 gatherings. He said that he received an email from the White House about the Davos trip and that his request to attend was approved.

The team from TruNews — three correspondents and a two-person production crew — stayed at a hotel where the White House had reserved a block of rooms for the use of American journalists. (As with a wedding block, those who used the rooms paid the hotel directly.) Reporters spotted Mr. Wiles at the breakfast buffet at the hotel, the Privà Alpine Lodge.

Asked in the interview if he understood why his “Jew coup” comments prompted charges of anti-Semitism, Mr. Wiles replied: “I coined a phrase. It came out of my mouth: ‘It looks like a Jew coup.’ All I pointed out was many of the people involved were Jewish.”

Pressed if such rhetoric could be reasonably interpreted as anti-Semitic, Mr. Wiles said: “It’s hard to say. I don’t know. I can tell you from my heart there is no ill will toward the Jewish people, with all sincerity.”

His critics disagree. Mr. Deutch, the representative from Florida, learned of TruNews’s presence in Davos while on a congressional trip to Jerusalem to commemorate the Holocaust.

“I can’t believe the day before I attend an event at Yad Vashem marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, anti-Semites were given WH credentials to broadcast from European soil,” Mr. Deutch wrote on Twitter. (Yad Vashem is the Israeli Holocaust memorial.)

The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Jonathan Karl of ABC News, has asked the Trump administration why TruNews was credentialed for the trip.

“It’s puzzling that a known hate group would get press credentials from the same White House that revoked the credentials of a correspondent for a major television network,” Mr. Karl said on Sunday, referring to Jim Acosta of CNN, whose credentials were revoked — and then restored after a lawsuit — in 2018.

“We have asked why this happened and if the White House intends to issue credentials to this group in the future,” Mr. Karl said. “We have not received an on-the-record response.”

Mr. Wiles, in the interview, said that he had been unfairly attacked by “the self-appointed gods and goddesses of the news media, who do not think we should be permitted to attend any event.” He went on to blame George Soros, the Jewish financier often cited in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, for coordinating a campaign against him.

“I don’t think anybody can find fault with our news coverage at these events,” Mr. Wiles said. “They may not agree with our analysis and conclusions. But our behavior at these events — we’re professional, we’re respectful.”

He added: “And we’re able to get interviews with prominent people.”

Annie Karni contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Suspect in Monsey Stabbings Searched Online for ‘Hitler,’ Charges Say

In his journal, prosecutors said, he wrote about Hitler and “Nazi culture.” On his phone, he searched online for “why did Hitler hate the Jews” at least four times and looked for “prominent companies founded by Jews in America.”

On Monday, new details emerged about the man accused of stabbing five Jewish people at a Hanukkah celebration in the New York suburbs when federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges against him.

These details, according to a criminal complaint, could suggest what led the man, Grafton Thomas, to go on a bloody rampage on Saturday in Monsey, N.Y., a hamlet northwest of New York City with a large community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The charges against Mr. Thomas came as police departments across New York and New Jersey stepped up patrols in Jewish neighborhoods and dispatched officers in front of synagogues and yeshivas.

Read the Complaint: United States v. Grafton E. Thomas

Mr. Thomas is charged in the attack at a rabbi’s house in Monsey, N.Y.

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Suspect in Monsey Stabbings Searched Online for ‘Hitler,’ Charges Say Thomas, Grafton E (1982- ) Synagogues Monsey (NY) Jews and Judaism Hasidism Hanukkah discrimination Crime and Criminals Brooklyn (NYC) Assaults anti-semitism   6 pages, 0.28 MB

The complaint was filed in Federal District Court in White Plains, N.Y., by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Thomas, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, appeared in court shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

“Are you clear in your head?” Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison asked him.

“Not clear, your honor,” said Mr. Thomas, who added that he needed rest.

Mr. Thomas’s family has said that he has a long history of mental illness, including schizophrenia.

But prosecutors, in the complaint, suggested that Mr. Thomas, who is from the nearby village of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., had a history of anti-Semitism. In one piece of writing, he used a phrase that investigators said appeared to reference the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a fringe religious movement with offshoots that have been described as hate groups.

The assault in Monsey further rattled the Jewish community in the New York region after a series of anti-Semitic incidents in New York City last week and a deadly mass shooting in Jersey City, N.J., that targeted a kosher supermarket earlier in the month.

In an interview on Monday morning on NPR, the public radio network, Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the recent attacks: “We consider this a crisis. Really, there is a growing anti-Semitism problem in this whole country. It has taken a more and more violent form.”

In Rockland County, where the attack on Saturday took place, the county executive, Ed Day, announced on Monday that a private security firm would work with the police to provide armed guards to synagogues in Monsey.

“We cannot stand around and do nothing,” Mr. Day said. “We are taking proactive action in order to address the concerns, the fears that are out there.”

Rockland County has more than 300,000 people, and 31 percent of the population is Jewish, according to the state. It is believed to have one of the largest populations of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside of Israel.

In recent years, the area’s ultra-Orthodox population has grown as Hasidic families from New York City, priced out of their neighborhoods, have relocated there. Despite the distance, residents in both places retain close ties with one another.

The barrage of incidents has left Jewish neighborhoods feeling under siege during Hanukkah, a celebration of when Jews had defied aggressors to openly practice their faith.

“People are afraid to send their kids out to school,” said Benny Polatseck, 30, an Orthodox Jewish community activist who lives in Monsey.

The five victims of the attack at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, were taken to the hospital. Several were treated there and released. At least one victim remained in the hospital with a skull fracture, officials said.

Mr. Thomas, 38, was later arrested in Harlem, about 30 miles from Monsey, with blood on his clothes, officials said. According to the complaint, officers found both a machete and a bloody knife in his car.

On Sunday, Mr. Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of state charges of attempted murder and one count of first-degree burglary. In federal case, Mr. Thomas was charged on Monday with five counts — the attempted murder of each his five victims as they exercised their religious beliefs.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Mr. Thomas had “targeted his victims in the midst of a religious ceremony, transforming a joyous Hanukkah celebration into a scene of carnage and pain.”

If convicted on any of the counts, Mr. Thomas faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, federal prosecutors said. Under the law, if any of the victims dies as a result of his injuries, Mr. Thomas could face the death penalty.

The federal case is expected to take place before any state case, prosecutors said.

Mr. Thomas’s lawyer, Michael H. Sussman, told reporters at a news conference on Monday that he had asked the Rockland County district attorney to agree to have Mr. Thomas undergo a 30-day evaluation in a hospital.

Mr. Sussman said that earlier in the day, Mr. Thomas told him that a voice, or voices, in his head had commanded him to go to that location in Monsey and retrieve or destroy a piece of property.

“My impression is that the situation he found where he went in was not the situation he expected to find, and that may have been a trigger for him,” Mr. Sussman said at his office in Goshen, N.Y., flanked by Mr. Thomas’s mother, Kim Thomas, who is a nurse, and the family’s pastor, the Rev. Wendy Paige.

Mr. Sussman said Mr. Thomas suffered from psychosis and major depressive disorder, and had been prescribed several drugs.

Mr. Thomas had never spoken to either his mother or pastor about Jews or anti-Semitism, the lawyer and Ms. Paige said.

But prosecutors said in the federal complaint that investigators had found handwritten journals at Mr. Thomas’s home in which he expressed anti-Semitic views.

On one page, he questioned why people “mourned for anti-Semitism when there is Semitic genocide,” the complaint said.

According to the complaint, Mr. Thomas also appeared to make a reference to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a religious group to which officials also linked one of the attackers in the Jersey City shooting.

While the movement is not known for promoting violence, some of its offshoots have been described as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, which track extremist organizations.

Officials have not linked the stabbings and the Jersey City shooting, and they have not established whether Mr. Thomas was a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

The federal complaint also said Mr. Thomas had made online search queries suggesting anti-Semitic views as early as Nov. 9. In recent weeks, it said, he searched for “German Jewish Temples near me,” and “Zionist Temples” in Elizabeth, N.J., and in Staten Island.

On the day of the stabbings, Mr. Thomas’s phone browser was used to call up an article titled “New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What to Know,” the complaint said.

Mr. Cuomo said on Sunday that he had ordered the State Police’s hate crimes force to investigate the rampage. He also called the attack an “act of domestic terrorism,” the phrase that officials eventually used to describe the Jersey City shooting.

As of Sunday, New York City had seen a 23 percent rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes so far this year, according to police data.

Since the attack in Jersey City on Dec. 10, the New York Police Department had been deploying more officers to protect synagogues, the police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said.

After further anti-Semitic incidents, including the stabbings in Monsey, the department also stepped up patrols in some Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Kevin Armstrong, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Rebecca Liebson and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Suspect in Monsey Stabbings Searched Online for ‘Hitler,’ Charges Say

In his journal, prosecutors said, he wrote about Hitler and “Nazi culture.” On his phone, he searched online for “why did Hitler hate the Jews” at least four times and looked for “prominent companies founded by Jews in America.”

On Monday, new details emerged about the man accused of stabbing five Jewish people at a Hanukkah celebration in the New York suburbs when federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges against him.

These details, according to a criminal complaint, could suggest what led the man, Grafton Thomas, to go on a bloody rampage on Saturday in Monsey, N.Y., a hamlet northwest of New York City with a large community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The charges against Mr. Thomas came as police departments across New York and New Jersey stepped up patrols in Jewish neighborhoods and dispatched officers in front of synagogues and yeshivas.

Read the Complaint: United States v. Grafton E. Thomas

Mr. Thomas is charged in the attack at a rabbi’s house in Monsey, N.Y.

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Suspect in Monsey Stabbings Searched Online for ‘Hitler,’ Charges Say Thomas, Grafton E (1982- ) Synagogues Monsey (NY) Jews and Judaism Hasidism Hanukkah discrimination Crime and Criminals Brooklyn (NYC) Assaults anti-semitism   6 pages, 0.28 MB

The complaint was filed in Federal District Court in White Plains, N.Y., by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Thomas, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, appeared in court shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

“Are you clear in your head?” Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison asked him.

“Not clear, your honor,” said Mr. Thomas, who added that he needed rest.

Mr. Thomas’s family has said that he has a long history of mental illness, including schizophrenia.

But prosecutors, in the complaint, suggested that Mr. Thomas, who is from the nearby village of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., had a history of anti-Semitism. In one piece of writing, he used a phrase that investigators said appeared to reference the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a fringe religious movement with offshoots that have been described as hate groups.

The assault in Monsey further rattled the Jewish community in the New York region after a series of anti-Semitic incidents in New York City last week and a deadly mass shooting in Jersey City, N.J., that targeted a kosher supermarket earlier in the month.

In an interview on Monday morning on NPR, the public radio network, Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the recent attacks: “We consider this a crisis. Really, there is a growing anti-Semitism problem in this whole country. It has taken a more and more violent form.”

In Rockland County, where the attack on Saturday took place, the county executive, Ed Day, announced on Monday that a private security firm would work with the police to provide armed guards to synagogues in Monsey.

“We cannot stand around and do nothing,” Mr. Day said. “We are taking proactive action in order to address the concerns, the fears that are out there.”

Rockland County has more than 300,000 people, and 31 percent of the population is Jewish, according to the state. It is believed to have one of the largest populations of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside of Israel.

In recent years, the area’s ultra-Orthodox population has grown as Hasidic families from New York City, priced out of their neighborhoods, have relocated there. Despite the distance, residents in both places retain close ties with one another.

The barrage of incidents has left Jewish neighborhoods feeling under siege during Hanukkah, a celebration of when Jews had defied aggressors to openly practice their faith.

“People are afraid to send their kids out to school,” said Benny Polatseck, 30, an Orthodox Jewish community activist who lives in Monsey.

The five victims of the attack at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, were taken to the hospital. Several were treated there and released. At least one victim remained in the hospital with a skull fracture, officials said.

Mr. Thomas, 38, was later arrested in Harlem, about 30 miles from Monsey, with blood on his clothes, officials said. According to the complaint, officers found both a machete and a bloody knife in his car.

On Sunday, Mr. Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of state charges of attempted murder and one count of first-degree burglary. In federal case, Mr. Thomas was charged on Monday with five counts — the attempted murder of each his five victims as they exercised their religious beliefs.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Mr. Thomas had “targeted his victims in the midst of a religious ceremony, transforming a joyous Hanukkah celebration into a scene of carnage and pain.”

If convicted on any of the counts, Mr. Thomas faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, federal prosecutors said. Under the law, if any of the victims dies as a result of his injuries, Mr. Thomas could face the death penalty.

The federal case is expected to take place before any state case, prosecutors said.

Mr. Thomas’s lawyer, Michael H. Sussman, told reporters at a news conference on Monday that he had asked the Rockland County district attorney to agree to have Mr. Thomas undergo a 30-day evaluation in a hospital.

Mr. Sussman said that earlier in the day, Mr. Thomas told him that a voice, or voices, in his head had commanded him to go to that location in Monsey and retrieve or destroy a piece of property.

“My impression is that the situation he found where he went in was not the situation he expected to find, and that may have been a trigger for him,” Mr. Sussman said at his office in Goshen, N.Y., flanked by Mr. Thomas’s mother, Kim Thomas, who is a nurse, and the family’s pastor, the Rev. Wendy Paige.

Mr. Sussman said Mr. Thomas suffered from psychosis and major depressive disorder, and had been prescribed several drugs.

Mr. Thomas had never spoken to either his mother or pastor about Jews or anti-Semitism, the lawyer and Ms. Paige said.

But prosecutors said in the federal complaint that investigators had found handwritten journals at Mr. Thomas’s home in which he expressed anti-Semitic views.

On one page, he questioned why people “mourned for anti-Semitism when there is Semitic genocide,” the complaint said.

According to the complaint, Mr. Thomas also appeared to make a reference to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a religious group to which officials also linked one of the attackers in the Jersey City shooting.

While the movement is not known for promoting violence, some of its offshoots have been described as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, which track extremist organizations.

Officials have not linked the stabbings and the Jersey City shooting, and they have not established whether Mr. Thomas was a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

The federal complaint also said Mr. Thomas had made online search queries suggesting anti-Semitic views as early as Nov. 9. In recent weeks, it said, he searched for “German Jewish Temples near me,” and “Zionist Temples” in Elizabeth, N.J., and in Staten Island.

On the day of the stabbings, Mr. Thomas’s phone browser was used to call up an article titled “New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What to Know,” the complaint said.

Mr. Cuomo said on Sunday that he had ordered the State Police’s hate crimes force to investigate the rampage. He also called the attack an “act of domestic terrorism,” the phrase that officials eventually used to describe the Jersey City shooting.

As of Sunday, New York City had seen a 23 percent rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes so far this year, according to police data.

Since the attack in Jersey City on Dec. 10, the New York Police Department had been deploying more officers to protect synagogues, the police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said.

After further anti-Semitic incidents, including the stabbings in Monsey, the department also stepped up patrols in some Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Kevin Armstrong, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Rebecca Liebson and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Suspect in Monsey Stabbings Did Searches for ‘Hitler,’ Charges Say

Federal prosecutors on Monday filed hate crimes charges against the man accused of bursting into a Hasidic rabbi’s home and stabbing five Jewish people at a Hanukkah celebration.

The charges came as the police stepped up patrols in Jewish neighborhoods and stationed officers in front of synagogues and yeshivas across New York and New Jersey.

In the criminal complaint, the authorities revealed evidence that could suggest the motivations of Grafton Thomas, who they say went on a bloody rampage on Saturday at the house in Monsey, N.Y., a hamlet northwest of New York City with a large community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Officials said they had found handwritten journals at Mr. Thomas’s home in which he expressed anti-Semitic views, including references to Adolf Hitler and “Nazi culture,” and drawings of a Star of David and a swastika, according to the complaint.

The complaint, signed by an F.B.I. special agent, Julie S. Brown, also said that officials had searched Mr. Thomas’s phone, which showed that he had looked online for the phrase “Why did Hitler hate the Jews” four times in the last month.

He also searched for “German Jewish Temples near me,” and “Zionist Temples” in Elizabeth, N.J., and in Staten Island in recent weeks, the complaint said.

Read the Complaint: United States v. Grafton E. Thomas

Mr. Thomas is charged in the attack at a rabbi’s house in Monsey, N.Y.

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Suspect in Monsey Stabbings Did Searches for ‘Hitler,’ Charges Say Synagogues Monsey (NY) Jews and Judaism Hasidism Hanukkah discrimination Crime and Criminals Brooklyn (NYC) Assaults anti-semitism   6 pages, 0.28 MB

On Saturday, the complaint said, Mr. Thomas’s phone browser was used to call up an article titled “New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What to Know.”

The complaint was filed in Federal District Court in White Plains, N.Y., by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Thomas was expected to appear in court on Monday afternoon.

Mr. Thomas’s family said on Sunday that he had a long history of mental illness, including schizophrenia.

The assault in Monsey further rattled the Jewish community in the New York region, which was already reeling from a series of anti-Semitic incidents in New York City last week and a mass shooting in Jersey City, N.J., that targeted a kosher supermarket and left three people, including two Hasidic Jews, dead earlier in the month.

“We will keep the Jewish community safe, and we have a zero tolerance when it comes to hate crimes in New York City,” New York City’s police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said on Monday in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

In an interview on Monday morning on NPR, the public radio network, Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the attacks: “We consider this a crisis. Really, there is a growing anti-Semitism problem in this whole country. It has taken a more and more violent form.”

Mr. de Blasio added that he had directed city schools to undertake an “intensified curriculum” focused on anti-Semitism when classes resume on Thursday. The goal, he said during the interview, was to teach young people that attacks motivated out of hate or ignorance bred only more violence.

In Rockland County, where the Saturday attack took place, the county executive, Ed Day, announced on Monday that a private security firm would work with the police to provide armed guards to synagogues in Monsey.

“We cannot stand around and do nothing,” Mr. Day said. “We are taking proactive action in order to address the concerns, the fears that are out there.”

Rockland County has more than 300,000 people, and 31 percent of the population is Jewish, according to the state. It is believed to have one of the largest populations of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside of Israel.

In recent years, the area’s ultra-Orthodox population has grown as Hasidic families from the city, priced out of their neighborhoods, have relocated there. Despite the distance, the communities in both the city and suburbs retain close ties.

The barrage of incidents left the community feeling particularly under siege as it observed Hanukkah, a celebration of a time long ago when Jews had defied external aggressors to openly practice their faith.

“People are afraid to send their kids out to school,” said Benny Polatseck, 30, an Orthodox Jewish community activist who lives in Monsey. “There is real angst.”

Four Orthodox Jewish elected officials, in a letter sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday, went further.

“It is no longer safe to be identifiably Orthodox in the State of New York,” they wrote. “We cannot shop, walk down the street, send our children to school, or even worship in peace.”

The five victims of the attack at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, were taken to the hospital. Four of them were treated there and released. As of Sunday afternoon, one remained there with a skull fracture, officials said.

Mr. Thomas, 38, was later arrested in Harlem, about 30 miles from Monsey, with blood on his clothes, officials said. According to the federal complaint, officers found both a machete and a bloody knife in the car.

On Sunday, Mr. Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree burglary.

A statement issued on Sunday night by a lawyer, Michael Sussman, in the name of the family said Mr. Thomas “had a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations” and “no known history of anti-Semitism.”

The federal complaint did not provide dates of Mr. Thomas’s journal entries, but it said he had searched online for pages expressing anti-Semitic sentiments as early as Nov. 9.

According to the complaint, one statement in his journals suggested that he had been influenced by the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a religious group to which officials also linked one of the attackers in the Jersey City shooting.

While the movement is not known for promoting violence, some of its offshoots have been described as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, which track extremist organizations.

Officials have not linked the Monsey stabbing and the Jersey City shooting, and they have not established whether Mr. Thomas was part of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

On Sunday, Mr. Cuomo said he had ordered the State Police’s hate crimes force to investigate the rampage.

The governor also called the Monsey stabbings an “act of domestic terrorism,” the phrase that officials eventually used to describe the Jersey City shooting.

In their letter to Mr. Cuomo, the four Orthodox Jewish elected officials urged him to declare a state of emergency. They asked him to deploy the New York National Guard to protect Jewish enclaves across the state and to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate anti-Semitic violence.

As of Sunday, New York City had seen a 23 percent rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes so far this year, according to police data.

Since the attack in Jersey City on Dec. 10, the New York Police Department had been deploying more officers to protect synagogues, Mr. Shea, the police commissioner, said. Over the weekend, it stepped up patrols in three Brooklyn neighborhoods after what officials called an “alarming” increase in incidents last week.

After the Monsey attack, the city’s Police Department said it was adding four to six officers per shift, who will focus on houses of worship and community events.

The department is also installing additional security cameras in the three Brooklyn communities and installing six more light towers in one of them.

Mr. Cuomo also ordered the State Police to increase patrols in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state.

“We should be celebrating this week,” Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said on Sunday. “Celebrating life. Not commemorating the loss of life and the attack on life.”

Rebecca Liebson and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

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Monsey Hanukkah Stabbing: 5 Wounded at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb

Westlake Legal Group 28nysynagogue-sub-facebookJumbo-v2 Monsey Hanukkah Stabbing: 5 Wounded at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb Monsey (NY) Jews and Judaism Hate Crimes

MONSEY, N.Y. — An intruder with a large knife burst into the home of a Hasidic rabbi in a New York suburb on Saturday night, stabbing and wounding five people just as they were gathering to light candles for Hanukkah, officials and a witness said.

It was a terrifying scene, the officials and witness reported, saying that the violence occurred at about 10 p.m. as numerous people were celebrating Hanukkah at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, in Monsey, which is in an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, visiting the rabbi’s home on Sunday morning, called the attack an “act of domestic terrorism.”

The New York Police Department said a suspect had been arrested in Harlem and was turned over to the authorities in Rockland County, which is northwest of New York City and where the attack took place.

The suspect was not immediately identified.

A witness, Aron Kohn, 65, who said he was in the rabbi’s home at the time, recalled that the rabbi was near the Hanukkah candles when the intruder stormed in.

“I was praying for my life,” Mr. Kohn said. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”

“We saw him pull a knife out of a case,” Mr. Kohn said. “It was about the size of a broomstick.”

Mr. Kohn said that after the attacker fled, he tried to enter a synagogue next door, Congregation Netzach Yisroel, which is led by Rabbi Rottenberg.

But people inside the synagogue apparently heard screams from the rabbi’s home and, fearful, locked the door so the attacker could not get in, Mr. Kohn said.

Michael B. Specht, town supervisor for Ramapo, which includes Monsey, said the suspect had been arrested in New York City in the 32nd Precinct, which covers Harlem.

Harlem is about 30 miles away from Monsey.

“Obviously, there’s been a history in the region of violent attacks upon the Orthodox community,” Mr. Specht said. “This is something very nightmarish to have happen in our town.”

Yossi Gestetner, a co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, a group that covers New York and New Jersey, said one of the victims was the rabbi’s son.

“The house had many dozens of people in there,” Mr. Gestetner said in a phone interview. “It was a Hanukkah celebration.”

Peggy Green, a Monsey resident who is Jewish, said she was at the Evergreen Kosher Market at around 10 p.m. when she heard that there had been a stabbing nearby on Forshay Road.

Ms. Green said the market, which is usually open until midnight on Saturdays and was busy with people shopping for Hanukkah parties, closed early.

Ms. Green, who lives nearby, said she tried to drive near the rabbi’s home but found Forshay Road blocked off by a long line of ambulances and police cars.

“It’s very scary,” she said, of being Jewish in Rockland County, adding that she thinks synagogues should have more armed security.

Ed Day, county executive for Rockland County, condemned the attack.

“Law enforcement in Rockland will leave no stone unturned as they bring those guilty of this crime to swift and severe justice,” Mr. Day said in a statement.

Governor Cuomo said he had ordered the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate the stabbings.

The attack came after a surge in anti-Semitic violence in the New York region. On Friday, the police in New York City stepped up patrols in three Brooklyn neighborhoods after what officials called an “alarming” increase in incidents.

Last month, an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed just steps away from a local synagogue as he was walking to morning prayers. The synagogue’s surveillance cameras showed a vehicle stopping near the man and then the attack on him, according to a manager there.

No one has been charged in that attack, and officials have not determined that it was a bias crime.

Rockland County, a collection of five towns northwest of New York City, has more than 300,000 people. About 31 percent of the population is Jewish, according to the state, and the county has one of the largest concentrations of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country.

The ultra-Orthodox population has surged in recent years as Hasidic families from Queens and Brooklyn, priced out of their neighborhoods, moved to the suburbs.

“The community is terrified,” said Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, who was at the crime scene in Monsey on Saturday night. “They are very, very scared.”

Orthodox Jews in Monsey were already rattled by recent assaults against Jews that took place in the last week in Brooklyn, as well as a deadly anti-Semitic shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City this month, he said.

Three people, two of them Orthodox Jews, were killed at the market, which was at the center of a growing Hasidic Jewish community in Jersey City.

Officials later declared the attack an act of domestic terrorism and said it was fueled by the assailants’ anti-Semitic beliefs.

While officials have not yet said whether they are investigating the stabbing on Saturday night as a hate crime, Mr. Bernstein said Orthodox community members he had spoken with felt the circumstances made them feel as though they were being targeted.

“This spate of assaults that we saw this past week was unlike anything I’ve experienced in my six and a half years at the A.D.L.,” he said. “And then, to have that really bookended with what happened in Jersey City and now, here in Monsey.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

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Monsey Hanukkah Stabbing: 5 Wounded at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb

Westlake Legal Group 28nysynagogue-sub-facebookJumbo-v2 Monsey Hanukkah Stabbing: 5 Wounded at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb Monsey (NY) Jews and Judaism Hate Crimes

MONSEY, N.Y. — An intruder with a large knife burst into the home of a Hasidic rabbi in a New York suburb on Saturday night, stabbing and wounding five people just as they were gathering to light candles for Hanukkah, officials and a witness said.

It was a terrifying scene, the officials and witness reported, saying that the violence occurred at about 10 p.m. as numerous people were celebrating Hanukkah at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, in Monsey, which is in an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, visiting the rabbi’s home on Sunday morning, called the attack an “act of domestic terrorism.”

The New York Police Department said a suspect had been arrested in Harlem and was turned over to the authorities in Rockland County, which is northwest of New York City and where the attack took place.

The suspect was not immediately identified.

A witness, Aron Kohn, 65, who said he was in the rabbi’s home at the time, recalled that the rabbi was near the Hanukkah candles when the intruder stormed in.

“I was praying for my life,” Mr. Kohn said. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”

“We saw him pull a knife out of a case,” Mr. Kohn said. “It was about the size of a broomstick.”

Mr. Kohn said that after the attacker fled, he tried to enter a synagogue next door, Congregation Netzach Yisroel, which is led by Rabbi Rottenberg.

But people inside the synagogue apparently heard screams from the rabbi’s home and, fearful, locked the door so the attacker could not get in, Mr. Kohn said.

Michael B. Specht, town supervisor for Ramapo, which includes Monsey, said the suspect had been arrested in New York City in the 32nd Precinct, which covers Harlem.

Harlem is about 30 miles away from Monsey.

“Obviously, there’s been a history in the region of violent attacks upon the Orthodox community,” Mr. Specht said. “This is something very nightmarish to have happen in our town.”

Yossi Gestetner, a co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, a group that covers New York and New Jersey, said one of the victims was the rabbi’s son.

“The house had many dozens of people in there,” Mr. Gestetner said in a phone interview. “It was a Hanukkah celebration.”

Peggy Green, a Monsey resident who is Jewish, said she was at the Evergreen Kosher Market at around 10 p.m. when she heard that there had been a stabbing nearby on Forshay Road.

Ms. Green said the market, which is usually open until midnight on Saturdays and was busy with people shopping for Hanukkah parties, closed early.

Ms. Green, who lives nearby, said she tried to drive near the rabbi’s home but found Forshay Road blocked off by a long line of ambulances and police cars.

“It’s very scary,” she said, of being Jewish in Rockland County, adding that she thinks synagogues should have more armed security.

Ed Day, county executive for Rockland County, condemned the attack.

“Law enforcement in Rockland will leave no stone unturned as they bring those guilty of this crime to swift and severe justice,” Mr. Day said in a statement.

Governor Cuomo said he had ordered the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate the stabbings.

The attack came after a surge in anti-Semitic violence in the New York region. On Friday, the police in New York City stepped up patrols in three Brooklyn neighborhoods after what officials called an “alarming” increase in incidents.

Last month, an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed just steps away from a local synagogue as he was walking to morning prayers. The synagogue’s surveillance cameras showed a vehicle stopping near the man and then the attack on him, according to a manager there.

No one has been charged in that attack, and officials have not determined that it was a bias crime.

Rockland County, a collection of five towns northwest of New York City, has more than 300,000 people. About 31 percent of the population is Jewish, according to the state, and the county has one of the largest concentrations of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country.

The ultra-Orthodox population has surged in recent years as Hasidic families from Queens and Brooklyn, priced out of their neighborhoods, moved to the suburbs.

“The community is terrified,” said Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, who was at the crime scene in Monsey on Saturday night. “They are very, very scared.”

Orthodox Jews in Monsey were already rattled by recent assaults against Jews that took place in the last week in Brooklyn, as well as a deadly anti-Semitic shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City this month, he said.

Three people, two of them Orthodox Jews, were killed at the market, which was at the center of a growing Hasidic Jewish community in Jersey City.

Officials later declared the attack an act of domestic terrorism and said it was fueled by the assailants’ anti-Semitic beliefs.

While officials have not yet said whether they are investigating the stabbing on Saturday night as a hate crime, Mr. Bernstein said Orthodox community members he had spoken with felt the circumstances made them feel as though they were being targeted.

“This spate of assaults that we saw this past week was unlike anything I’ve experienced in my six and a half years at the A.D.L.,” he said. “And then, to have that really bookended with what happened in Jersey City and now, here in Monsey.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

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Monsey Stabbing: 5 Wounded at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166405164_c7854361-1b4b-4b42-b7a6-773e6abc3238-facebookJumbo Monsey Stabbing: 5 Wounded at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb Monsey (NY) Jews and Judaism Hate Crimes

An intruder with a knife stormed into the home of a Hasidic rabbi in a New York suburb on Saturday, stabbing and wounding five people, officials said.

The home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, is in Monsey, N.Y., an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The attack happened during a Hanukkah party around 10 p.m., when a man entered the home and stabbed the five people before fleeing, officials said.

Police officials announced around midnight that the attacker had been caught, but they did not immediately indicate whether they were investigating the violence as a bias crime.

“The suspect fled the scene, but he is in custody at this time,” police officials said.

Michael B. Specht, the town supervisor for Ramapo, which includes Monsey, said the attacker had been arrested in the 32nd Precinct, which is in Harlem.

The attacker’s identity was not disclosed by the authorities.

“Obviously, there’s been a history in the region of violent attacks upon the Orthodox community,” Mr. Specht said. “This is something very nightmarish to have happen in our town.”

Yossi Gestetner, a co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region, said five people were stabbed in the attack, and two were critically wounded. Among the victims was a son of the rabbi.

“The house had many dozens of people in there,” Mr. Gestetner said in a phone interview. “It was a Hanukkah celebration.”

Peggy Green, a Monsey resident who is Jewish, said she was at the Evergreen Kosher Market at around 10 p.m. when she heard that there had been a stabbing nearby on Forshay Road.

Ms. Green said the market, which is usually open until midnight on Saturdays and was busy with people shopping for Hanukkah parties, closed early.

Ms. Green, who lives nearby, said she tried to drive near the rabbi’s home but found Forshay Road blocked off by a long line of ambulances and police cars.

“It’s very scary,” she said, of being Jewish in Rockland County, adding that she thinks synagogues should have more armed security.

Ed Day, the county executive for Rockland County, which is northwest of New York City, condemned the attack.

“Law enforcement in Rockland will leave no stone unturned as they bring those guilty of this crime to swift and severe justice,” Mr. Day said in a statement.

Last month, an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed just steps away from a local synagogue as he was walking to morning prayers. The synagogue’s surveillance cameras showed a vehicle stopping near the man and then the attack on him, according to a manager there.

No one has been charged in that attack, and officials have not determined that it was a bias crime.

Rockland County, a collection of five towns northwest of New York City, has a population of more than 300,000 people. About 31 percent of the population is Jewish, according to the state, and the county has one of the largest concentrations of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country.

The ultra-Orthodox population has surged particularly in recent years as Hasidic families from Queens and Brooklyn, priced out of their neighborhoods, sought to build communities elsewhere.

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How 2 Drifters Brought Anti-Semitic Terror to Jersey City

The first body was found stuffed inside the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car.

It was a brutal crime, a 34-year-old livery driver beaten in the head and his body hidden in a sedan on a residential street in Bayonne, N.J.

But the discovery offered no hint of what was to come.

A bulletin with details about the man’s death circulated among local law enforcement. It mentioned a moving van.

On Tuesday, a police officer named Joe Seals was on duty in nearby Jersey City. He grew up in the area, and joining the force had fulfilled a dream. Two years ago, he made detective.

Detective Seals, 40, was apparently on his way to meet a confidential informant at Bayview Cemetery, where weeds grow thick among the graves. He had been exchanging texts with his mother about Christmas presents for his five children.

By noon, he stopped replying.

He had spotted a U-Haul van.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165921375_c64d6bb6-1e3a-43d0-a868-851e268423ca-articleLarge How 2 Drifters Brought Anti-Semitic Terror to Jersey City Terrorism Supermarkets and Grocery Stores Seals, Joseph (d 2019) Rodriguez, Douglas Miguel (d 2019) Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Jews and Judaism Jersey City, NJ, Shooting (December 10, 2019) Jersey City (NJ) JC Kosher Supermarket (Jersey City, NJ) Hasidism Graham, Francine (1969-2019) Ferencz, Mindel (d 2019) Deutsch, Moshe (d 2019) Black Hebrew Israelites Anderson, David N (1972-2019)

Investigators on Tuesday combed the scene at Bayview Cemetery in Jersey City, where Detective Joe Seals was killed.Credit…Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

Shortly afterward, Detective Seals was shot dead at the hands of a couple who then carried out an anti-Semitic rampage at a Jersey City kosher market in what officials later declared an act of domestic terrorism.

The attack left three people dead and deeply unnerved the thriving multicultural city across the river from Lower Manhattan. Scores of law enforcement officers engaged in a harrowing firefight with the couple that turned the neighborhood into a combat zone.

The assailants — David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — were both killed, leaving their relatives, friends and authorities trying to understand what set them off.

The two had been dating for a couple of years and seemed to have recently begun a transient lifestyle.

Ms. Graham had moved to New Jersey in 2011, when she left the Harlem block she had known all her life and bought a condo in Elizabeth. She had recently left her job as a nurse aide at a health care center where she worked for 17 years.

It was her first time owning a home, an achievement that she shared with her upstairs neighbor, who often shared meals with “Miss Francine.”

Once, Ms. Graham stopped by as the neighbor was watching a movie with a shooting scene. “I’m terrified of guns,” he recalled her saying.

The friendship withered when Ms. Graham began bringing around Mr. Anderson, a lithe, self-assured man who had a small flower tattoo on his cheek.

Mr. Anderson had been in the Army reserve for four years, during which he repaired fuel and electrical systems. His rap sheet included serving time for weapons charges and threatening to kill a live-in girlfriend.

An aspiring hip-hop producer and performer, Mr. Anderson appeared to have created several social media personas, posting under Dawada Maqabath, AKANapoleonHill, Baryon Bloodbourne and Dawad Maccabee.

By 2015, Mr. Anderson was ascribing to the ideology of the Black Hebrew Israelites, an extremist sect that thinks of its members as true Israelites, believes Jews are impostors and espouses anti-Semitism.

In October of that year, he reposted a Facebook friend’s statement: “I hope you negroes, latinoes, and native Americans wake up to who you are. According to the bible you are the real Hebrew Israelites. Not those fake jewish people who is really from kahzaria.”

Mr. Anderson moved in with Ms. Graham and the two could be heard shouting Bible verses together. In 2017, Ms. Graham’s condo went into foreclosure.

After squatting in the home, the couple disappeared.

It was a modest storefront, but the JC Kosher Supermarket had become a hub, a symbol of the roots of a newly formed Hasidic Jewish community in Jersey City.

Moishe Ferencz had opened the market a few years ago with his wife, Leah Mindel Ferencz. The two had met through a matchmaker in Monroe, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley, and lived for some time in Brooklyn. When cheaper housing drew friends to Jersey City, they followed, wanting more space for their three children.

The arrival of dozens of Hasidic Jews to the predominantly black neighborhood came with tensions. Some longtime residents felt they were being pushed out.

But the Ferenczes took to their new city eagerly, and their market was a boon to an area lacking kosher food. They had a reputation for being compassionate to employees, including Douglas Miguel Rodriguez.

Douglas Miguel Rodriguez

Mr. Rodriguez, 49, had endeared himself to regulars by quickly learning their names and memorizing their favorite snacks. They knew to ask him about his wife and 11-year-old daughter whose middle name was Milagros — “miracle” in Spanish — because it had taken the couple so long to conceive.

He had been a financial manager in Ecuador for an insurance company that went under, and, in 2016, he left his parents and four siblings to find work in New Jersey.

At JC Kosher, Mr. Rodriguez worked six days a week, making deli sandwiches, stacking shelves and delivering food.

On Tuesday, he was inside the store with the Ferenczes and a handful of customers. Among them was Moshe Deutsch.

Moshe Deutsch

A 24-year-old rabbinical student, Mr. Deutsch had helped establish a new yeshiva, where he was also a student.

His father, a well-known community member, organized a large food drive every year before Passover. Mr. Deutsch helped him with the event and hoped to follow in his footsteps. A resident of Brooklyn, he happened to be visiting a cousin in the area.

At about 12:15 p.m., Mr. Ferencz stepped out, as he usually did, to head to the synagogue next door. His 33-year-old wife was left tending to the store.

When the U-Haul van pulled up to Bayview Cemetery, there was little way to know what its occupants had in store.

But it had been retrofitted with makeshift ballistic panels meant to deflect bullets and was lined with material from bulletproof vests.

Inside were five firearms: an AR-15-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols and a Ruger Mark IV with a homemade silencer, officials later said. One of them may have been used to kill the livery driver, whose body was found in the trunk in Bayonne on Dec. 7.

Two of the weapons were believed to have been purchased last year in Ohio. There was also a pipe bomb and a homemade device to catch shell casings, as well as a rambling manifesto that spoke of a creator.

None of this was apparent to Detective Seals.

Detective Joe Seals

He was not in uniform, and it was unclear whether he called for backup, but he approached the van with 15 years of experience and the reputation of having personally rid the streets of dozens of guns.

Detective Seals was fatally shot in the head and in the arm.

From there, the van headed one mile north, appearing to be in no rush as it ambled along Martin Luther King Drive. At about 12:20 p.m., it passed cars that were waiting at a stoplight and people who were plodding down sidewalks in the rain.

It slowed just before Bayview Avenue. The driver took care to park at an open space near the corner.

Then the van doors flew open.

Mr. Anderson sprang out of the driver’s seat. He quickly raised a rifle and aimed it at the JC Kosher Supermarket, firing without hesitation while striding across the road. A handful of bystanders scrambled to take cover, some dodging behind cars.

From the other side of the vehicle emerged Ms. Graham. She held a shotgun, but her gait was less confident, and she scurried after Mr. Anderson who had barged into the market.

David Lax was at the salad bar near the entrance when bullets crashed through the glass window. He threw himself under the table.

Leah Mindel Ferencz

Mr. Anderson, clad in black, marched past him, continuing to fire all around the store. Mr. Lax stood up, but then Ms. Graham appeared in a black coat. She looked at Mr. Lax and briefly turned to make sure her firearm had cleared the door.

Mr. Lax took the moment to shove past her, pushing on the arm that held the gun, and raced out.

“There were bullets flying all over,” he said. “I was just on autopilot.”

His friend Simon Goldberger saw him run out. Mr. Goldberger had been about to go to the synagogue, but had hunkered down in his Kia Optima once he saw the assailants storm the market. He found himself trembling under his steering wheel and dialing 911.

The lines were jammed.

Around that time, Chaim Deutsch bolted out the back door of the market and clambered over two fences. He had been shopping when the initial shots were fired and was hit by three bullets, including one to the chest. He never glimpsed who was shooting. But he had seen three people go limp, their bodies collapsing to the ground.

Mariela Fernandez and Ray Sanchez, both Jersey City police officers, rushed toward the sound of rapid gunfire. They were on foot patrol and happened to be in the area. When they arrived, one was struck in the torso, the other in the shoulder.

Officers began to descend on the neighborhood and the exchange of gunfire pummeled the air like firecrackers. Some pounded on doors and urged residents and business owners to leave.

“Get off the street!” they shouted at those standing outside, confused by the chaos. An armored vehicle with flashing blue and red lights drove up, rain drizzling onto its windshield. The door opened.

“Get up! Get out of your car, come in!” someone shouted at Mr. Goldberger, who was still huddled in his seat. Mr. Goldberger darted into the authorities’ vehicle. He was driven down a road and dropped off.

Three blocks away, Emma J. Sheffield kicked at the doors of the middle school on Bergen Avenue where she teaches special needs students, hoping someone would let her in. She had just returned from a lunch break and was desperate to seek cover. “Oh my, God!” she cried.

But her school, along with many others in Jersey City and Bayonne, had been placed on lockdown.

Parents received phone calls and text messages that stopped them cold. Live reports from the scene offered little comfort.

Doors were bolted at the synagogue, in hopes of keeping dozens of children at the second-floor yeshiva safe. Bullets tore through a window at a private Catholic academy directly across the street.

The neighborhood was soon crawling with authorities from Jersey City, New York City and the F.B.I. Snipers crouched on rooftops. State police, including assets from the agency’s marine services and canine units, were on their way.

A bomb squad from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up, and helicopters whirred overhead. More than a dozen officers slipped south on Martin Luther King Drive, their guns drawn as they passed a shuttered Mexican restaurant and a laundromat. The exchange of gunfire continued in ceaseless succession.

It felt to residents as if the neighborhood was under siege. Up close, the shots were deafening. Perhaps, many thought, this was what war sounded like.

Inside her apartment on Grant Avenue, Evelena Morrison Tisdale crawled on the floor, unsure of where the gunfire was directed. The 56-year-old counted gunshots. One hundred? No, more. She began to pray. Whenever the shooting seemed to end, it started up again.

At about 3:25 p.m., an armored vehicle appeared and rammed into the front of the market, mowing into what was left of the glass windows and door. There was more gunfire.

And then, suddenly, a hush.

Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham lay dead on the floor. Near them, the bodies of Ms. Ferencz, Mr. Rodriguez and Moshe Deutsch.

The terror had ended. The grief would not.

Anxious parents waiting outside schools embraced their children.

Detective Seals’s mother raced to Jersey City Medical Center to receive news that made her numb. A crowd of officers turned up to honor their colleague as his body was carried into a hearse.

Members of a Jewish disaster relief organization appeared at the market to ensure all of the victims’ body parts were collected, according to religious custom. The same practice is carried out in Israel after terrorist bombings and other attacks.

A rabbi would later confirm that Mr. Deutsch’s body had been riddled with bullets. “Can you imagine, a few hundred bullets into the body of a 24-year-old child?” he said, sobbing.

A vigil was held for Michael Rumberger, the father of two left in a car trunk who may have been the first victim, the link still unclear to his inconsolable parents.

And everyone grappled with the notion that the rampage had been an act of domestic terrorism, infringing on any sense of peace and exposing their vulnerability.

Chesky Deutsch, a community activist in the Hasidic community, would agonize over how to soothe frayed emotions. There was much to consider: holding proper burials, addressing the families of victims, relaying details from the police.

It was the thought of the young school children that particularly weighed on Mr. Deutsch. They would need therapists. Trapped beside a barrage of bullets, they had experienced a fear from which they could not be sheltered, their innocence forever fragmented.

“All they heard,” he said, “was gunshots for two hours.”

Reporting was contributed by Nick Corasaniti, Michael Gold, Kwame Opam, Sharon Otterman, William K. Rashbaum, Michael Rothfeld, Andrea Salcedo, Edgar Sandoval, Nate Schweber, Ashley Southall, Christiaan Triebert, Tracey Tully, Ali Watkins and Haley Willis. Susan C. Beachy, Jack Begg and Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Bullets Flying All Over’: How Anti-Semitic Terror Shook Jersey City

The first body was found stuffed inside the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car.

It was a brutal crime, a 34-year-old livery driver beaten in the head and hidden in a sedan on a residential street in Bayonne, N.J.

But the discovery offered no hint of what was to come.

A bulletin with details about the man’s death circulated among local law enforcement. It mentioned a moving van.

On Tuesday, a police officer named Joe Seals was on duty in nearby Jersey City. He grew up in the area, and joining the force had fulfilled a dream. Two years ago, he made detective.

Detective Seals, 40, was apparently on his way to meet a confidential informant at Bayview Cemetery, where weeds grow thick among the graves. He had been exchanging texts with his mother about Christmas presents for his five children.

By noon, he stopped replying.

He had spotted a U-Haul van.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165921375_c64d6bb6-1e3a-43d0-a868-851e268423ca-articleLarge ‘Bullets Flying All Over’: How Anti-Semitic Terror Shook Jersey City Terrorism Supermarkets and Grocery Stores Seals, Joseph (d 2019) Rodriguez, Douglas Miguel (d 2019) Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Jews and Judaism Jersey City, NJ, Shooting (December 10, 2019) Jersey City (NJ) JC Kosher Supermarket (Jersey City, NJ) Hasidism Graham, Francine (1969-2019) Ferencz, Mindel (d 2019) Deutsch, Moshe (d 2019) Black Hebrew Israelites Anderson, David N (1972-2019)

Investigators on Tuesday combed the scene at Bayview Cemetery in Jersey City, where Detective Joe Seals was killed.Credit…Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

Shortly afterward, Detective Seals was shot dead at the hands of a couple who then carried out an anti-Semitic rampage at a Jersey City kosher market in what officials later declared an act of domestic terrorism.

The attack killed three people and deeply unnerved the thriving multicultural city across the river from Lower Manhattan. Scores of law enforcement officers engaged in a harrowing firefight with the couple that turned the neighborhood into a combat zone.

The assailants — David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — were both killed, leaving their relatives, friends and authorities trying to understand what set them off.

The two had been dating for a couple of years and seemed to have recently begun a transient lifestyle.

Ms. Graham had moved to New Jersey in 2011, when she left the Harlem block she had known all her life and bought a condo in Elizabeth. She had recently left her job as a nurse aide at a health care center where she worked for 17 years.

It was her first time owning a home, an achievement that she shared with her upstairs neighbor, who often shared meals with “Miss Francine.”

Once, Ms. Graham stopped by as the neighbor was watching a movie with a shooting scene. “I’m terrified of guns,” he recalled her saying.

The friendship withered when Ms. Graham began bringing around Mr. Anderson, a lithe, self-assured man who had a small flower tattoo on his cheek.

Mr. Anderson had been in the Army reserve for four years, during which he repaired fuel and electrical systems. His rap sheet included serving time for weapons charges and threatening to kill a live-in girlfriend.

An aspiring hip-hop producer and performer, Mr. Anderson appeared to have created several social media personas, posting under Dawada Maqabath, AKANapoleonHill, Baryon Bloodbourne and Dawad Maccabee.

By 2015, Mr. Anderson was ascribing to the ideology of the Black Hebrew Israelites, an extremist sect that thinks of its members as true Israelites, believes Jews are impostors and espouses anti-Semitism.

In October of that year, he reposted a Facebook friend’s statement: “I hope you negroes, latinoes, and native Americans wake up to who you are. According to the bible you are the real Hebrew Israelites. Not those fake jewish people who is really from kahzaria.”

Mr. Anderson moved in with Ms. Graham and the two could be heard shouting Bible verses together. In 2017, Ms. Graham’s condo went into foreclosure.

After squatting in the home, the couple disappeared.

It was a modest storefront, but the JC Kosher Supermarket had become a hub, a symbol of the roots of a newly formed Hasidic Jewish community in Jersey City.

Moishe Ferencz had opened the market a few years ago with his wife, Leah Mindel Ferencz. The two had met through a matchmaker in Monroe, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley, and lived for some time in Brooklyn. When cheaper housing drew friends to Jersey City, they followed, wanting more space for their three children.

The arrival of dozens of Hasidic Jews to the predominantly black neighborhood came with tensions. Some longtime residents felt they were being pushed out.

But the Ferenczes took to their new city eagerly, and their market was a boon to an area lacking kosher food. They had a reputation for being compassionate to employees, including Douglas Miguel Rodriguez.

Douglas Miguel Rodriguez

Mr. Rodriguez, 49, had endeared himself to regulars by quickly learning their names and memorizing their favorite snacks. They knew to ask him about his wife and 11-year-old daughter whose middle name was Milagros — “miracle” in Spanish — because it had taken the couple so long to conceive.

He had been a financial manager in Ecuador for an insurance company that went under, and, in 2016, he left his parents and four siblings to find work in New Jersey.

At JC Kosher, Mr. Rodriguez worked six days a week, making deli sandwiches, stacking shelves and delivering food.

On Tuesday, he was inside the store with the Ferenczes and a handful of customers. Among them was Moshe Deutsch.

Moshe Deutsch

A 24-year-old rabbinical student, Mr. Deutsch had helped establish a new yeshiva, where he was also a student.

His father, a well-known community member, organized a large food drive every year before Passover. Mr. Deutsch helped him with the event and hoped to follow in his footsteps. A resident of Brooklyn, he happened to be visiting a cousin in the area.

At about 12:15 p.m., Mr. Ferencz stepped out, as he usually did, to head to the synagogue next door. His 33-year-old wife was left tending to the store.

When the U-Haul van pulled up to Bayview Cemetery, there was little way to know what its occupants had in store.

But it had been retrofitted with makeshift ballistic panels meant to deflect bullets and was lined with material from bulletproof vests.

Inside were five firearms: an AR-15-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols and a Ruger Mark IV with a homemade silencer, officials later said. One of them may have been used to kill the livery driver, whose body was found in the trunk in Bayonne on Dec. 7.

Two of the weapons were believed to have been purchased last year in Ohio. There was also a pipe bomb and a homemade device to catch shell casings, as well as a rambling manifesto that spoke of a creator.

None of this was apparent to Detective Seals.

Detective Joe Seals

He was not in uniform, and it was unclear whether he called for backup, but he approached the van with 15 years of experience and the reputation of having personally rid the streets of dozens of guns.

Detective Seals was fatally shot in the head and in the arm.

From there, the van headed one mile north, appearing to be in no rush as it ambled along Martin Luther King Drive. At about 12:20 p.m., it passed cars that were waiting at a stoplight and people who were plodding down sidewalks in the rain.

It slowed just before Bayview Avenue. The driver took care to park at an open space near the corner.

Then the van doors flew open.

Mr. Anderson sprang out of the driver’s seat. He quickly raised a rifle and aimed it at the JC Kosher Supermarket, firing without hesitation while striding across the road. A handful of bystanders scrambled to take cover, some dodging behind cars.

From the other side of the vehicle emerged Ms. Graham. She held a shotgun, but her gait was less confident, and she scurried after Mr. Anderson who had barged into the market.

David Lax was at the salad bar near the entrance when bullets crashed through the glass window. He threw himself under the table.

Leah Mindel Ferencz

Mr. Anderson, clad in black, marched past him, continuing to fire all around the store. Mr. Lax stood up, but then Ms. Graham appeared in a black coat. She looked at Mr. Lax and briefly turned to make sure her firearm had cleared the door.

Mr. Lax took the moment to shove past her, pushing on the arm that held the gun, and raced out.

“There were bullets flying all over,” he said. “I was just on autopilot.”

His friend Simon Goldberger saw him run out. Mr. Goldberger had been about to go to the synagogue, but had hunkered down in his Kia Optima once he saw the assailants storm the market. He found himself trembling under his steering wheel and dialing 911.

The lines were jammed.

Around that time, Chaim Deutsch bolted out the back door of the market and clambered over two fences. He had been shopping when the initial shots were fired and was hit by three bullets, including one to the chest. He never glimpsed who was shooting. But he had seen three people go limp, their bodies collapsing to the ground.

Mariela Fernandez and Ray Sanchez, both Jersey City police officers, rushed toward the sound of rapid gunfire. They were on foot patrol and happened to be in the area. When they arrived, one was struck in the torso, the other in the shoulder.

Officers began to descend on the neighborhood and the exchange of gunfire pummeled the air like firecrackers. Some pounded on doors and urged residents and business owners to leave.

“Get off the street!” they shouted at those standing outside, confused by the chaos. An armored vehicle with flashing blue and red lights drove up, rain drizzling onto its windshield. The door opened.

“Get up! Get out of your car, come in!” someone shouted at Mr. Goldberger, who was still huddled in his seat. Mr. Goldberger darted into the authorities’ vehicle. He was driven down a road and dropped off.

Three blocks away, Emma J. Sheffield kicked at the doors of the middle school on Bergen Avenue where she teaches special needs students, hoping someone would let her in. She had just returned from a lunch break and was desperate to seek cover. “Oh my, God!” she cried.

But her school, along with many others in Jersey City and Bayonne, had been placed on lockdown.

Parents received phone calls and text messages that stopped them cold. Live reports from the scene offered little comfort.

Doors were bolted at the synagogue, in hopes of keeping dozens of children at the second-floor yeshiva safe. Bullets tore through a window at a private Catholic academy directly across the street.

The neighborhood was soon crawling with authorities from Jersey City, New York City and the F.B.I. Snipers crouched on rooftops. State police, including assets from the agency’s marine services and canine units, were on their way.

A bomb squad from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up, and helicopters whirred overhead. More than a dozen officers slipped south on Martin Luther King Drive, their guns drawn as they passed a shuttered Mexican restaurant and a laundromat. The exchange of gunfire continued in ceaseless succession.

It felt to residents as if the neighborhood was under siege. Up close, the shots were deafening. Perhaps, many thought, this was what war sounded like.

Inside her apartment on Grant Avenue, Evelena Morrison Tisdale crawled on the floor, unsure of where the gunfire was directed. The 56-year-old counted gunshots. One hundred? No, more. She began to pray. Whenever the shooting seemed to end, it started up again.

At about 3:25 p.m., an armored vehicle appeared and rammed into the front of the market, mowing into what was left of the glass windows and door. There was more gunfire.

And then, suddenly, a hush.

Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham lay dead on the floor. Near them, the bodies of Ms. Ferencz, Mr. Rodriguez and Moshe Deutsch.

The terror had ended. The grief would not.

Anxious parents waiting outside schools embraced their children.

Detective Seals’s mother raced to Jersey City Medical Center to receive news that made her numb. A crowd of officers turned up to honor their colleague as his body was carried into a hearse.

Members of a Jewish disaster relief organization appeared at the market to ensure all of the victims’ body parts were collected, according to religious custom. The same practice is carried out in Israel after terrorist bombings and other attacks.

A rabbi would later confirm that Mr. Deutsch’s body had been riddled with bullets. “Can you imagine, a few hundred bullets into the body of a 24-year-old child?” he said, sobbing.

A vigil was held for Michael Rumberger, the father of two left in a car trunk who may have been the first victim, the link still unclear to his inconsolable parents.

And everyone grappled with the notion that the rampage had been an act of domestic terrorism, infringing on any sense of peace and exposing their vulnerability.

Chesky Deutsch, a community activist in the Hasidic community, would agonize over how to soothe frayed emotions. There was much to consider: holding proper burials, addressing the families of victims, relaying details from the police.

It was the thought of the young school children that particularly weighed on Mr. Deutsch. They would need therapists. Trapped beside a barrage of bullets, they had experienced a fear from which they could not be sheltered, their innocence forever fragmented.

“All they heard,” he said, “was gunshots for two hours.”

Reporting was contributed by Nick Corasaniti, Michael Gold, Kwame Opam, Sharon Otterman, William K. Rashbaum, Michael Rothfeld, Andrea Salcedo, Edgar Sandoval, Nate Schweber, Ashley Southall, Christiaan Triebert, Tracey Tully, Ali Watkins and Haley Willis. Susan C. Beachy, Jack Begg and Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com