Authorities gather on a street in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday following a stabbing late Saturday during a Hanukkah celebration. Allyse Pulliam/AP
Authorities gather on a street in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday following a stabbing late Saturday during a Hanukkah celebration.
A man attacked Hanukkah celebrants who had gathered at the home of a Hasidic rabbi in a New York City suburb on Saturday, stabbing and wounding five people before fleeing the scene.
The suspect was later apprehended in New York City, officials said.
Five patients with stab wounds, all of them Hasidic Jews, were taken to local hospitals, according to the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region. The group said two of them were in critical condition.
The attack took place at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., located about 30 miles north of New York City. The area has a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
“I was praying for my life,” witness Aron Kohn told The New York Times. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.” Kohn told the Times the knife was the size of a broomstick. He said the attacker then tried to enter the synagogue next door, but people inside had locked the door.
Police said the suspect fled the scene but was taken into custody, the paper reported. Michael Specht, the town supervisor of Ramapo, which includes Monsey, said on Twitter that the suspect was apprehended in New York City.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was “horrified” by the stabbing.
“We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in NY and we will hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law. NY stands with the Jewish community,” he wrote in a statement.
He said he was directing the state police hate crimes task force to investigate.
The attack comes amid reports of a spate of anti-Semitic violence in New York City and the surrounding area. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that police would increase their presence in neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.
In the past week, there have been reports of people being punched, slapped, hit in the face with a bag, and anti-Semitic slurs being shouted.
And earlier this month, a pair of shooters attacked a kosher market in Jersey City, N.J., killing three civilians, after killing a police officer at a nearby cemetery. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the evidence pointed toward “acts of hate” in the attacks, with the attackers motivated by both “anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said the recent attacks mean law enforcement needs to step up protection of the Jewish community.
“Whether worshiping in synagogue, shopping in the supermarket or celebrating at home, Jews should be safe from violence,” he wrote. “We need authorities to provide increased protection NOW and ensure that the full force of the law is brought down on those who perpetrate such horrific crimes.”
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