Authorities gather on a street in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, following a stabbing late Saturday during a Hanukkah celebration. A man attacked the celebration at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late Saturday, stabbing and wounding several people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said. (AP Photo/Allyse Pulliam)

Authorities gather on a street in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, following a stabbing late Saturday during a Hanukkah celebration. A man attacked the celebration at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late Saturday, stabbing and wounding several people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said. (AP Photo/Allyse Pulliam)

5 stabbed at New York rabbi’s house on Hanukkah; suspect in custody

Governor called the attack an act of domestic terrorism

A man stabbed and wounded five people as they gathered at a rabbi’s home north of New York City to celebrate Hanukkah, in an attack that the governor said Sunday was fueled by intolerance and evidence of a “cancer” in American politics.

A suspect is in custody at the Ramapo Police headquarters and will face five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, according to Police Chief Brad Weidel. Police identified him as Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, New York.

The Saturday night stabbings north of New York City on the seventh night of Hanukkah come on the heels of a string of attacks targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month. The rabbi’s home is in Monsey, a town not far from the New Jersey state line and one of several in the Hudson Valley that has seen an influx of Hasidic Jews in recent years. The Rockland County town is about 35 miles (56 kilometres) north of New York City.

One person was very seriously wounded, the governor told reporters, and remained in critical condition. The rabbi’s son was also injured, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. His status and that of the other victims was not clear.

Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack, but Cuomo said it was an example of larger problems.

“This is an intolerant time in our country,” he said to reporters outside the rabbi’s home on Sunday morning. “We see anger, we see hatred exploding.”

He added: “It is an American cancer on the body politic.”

He said he thought the crime was an act of domestic terrorism and expected it to be prosecuted that way.

Police said the stabbings happened at around 10 p.m. A witness saw the suspect fleeing in car and alerted police to license plate number, Weidel, the police chief in Ramapo, which covers Monsey, said. That allowed police to find his vehicle as he entered New York City, where police apprehended.

“It was critical to the case,” said Weidel.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration.

The large home on Forshay Road remained cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape early Sunday. According to public records, the home belongs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the adjacent synagogue. Several state and local officials had described the location of the stabbings as a synagogue.

Aron Kohn told The New York Times he was inside the residence during the stabbings.

“I was praying for my life,” said Kohn, 65. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”

The attack drew condemnation from top state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James, as well as from Israel’s president and prime minister.

“Israel unequivocally condemns the recent expressions of anti-Semitism and the vicious attack in the middle of Hanukkah on the rabbi’s house in Monsey, New York,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We send our wishes of recovery to the wounded. We will co-operate in every way with the local authorities in order to defeat this phenomenon. We offer our help to each and every state.”

Cuomo, who called the stabbings a “cowardly act,” directed the New York State Police hate crimes task force to investigate.

“Let me be clear: anti-Semitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate,” he said in a statement. “In New York we will always stand up and say with one voice to anyone who wishes to divide and spread fear: you do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished.”

Jewish communities in the New York City metropolitan area have been left shaken following a deadly Dec. 10 shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market. Six people — three people who had been inside the store, a police officer and the two killers — died in the gunbattle and standoff that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said was “fueled” by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.

Last month, a man was stabbed while walking to a synagogue in the same town that was the site of Saturday night’s attack; he required surgery. It’s unclear whether the assailant has been arrested.

And this past week in New York City itself, police have received at least six reports — eight since Dec. 13 — of attacks possibly motivated by anti-Jewish bias. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that police presence would increase in Brooklyn neighbourhoods home to large Jewish populations.

READ MORE: Anti-Semitic attacks spike, killing most Jews in decades

“I am so sad for this openly #orthodox #Jewish community & the ones across the region,” tweeted Evan Bernstein, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey who went to the scene in Monsey. “When will a break from this hate come? When will the community be able to be relaxed again? #Hanukkah will never be the same for so many of the #Jews impacted.”

___

Associated Press writer Justin Madden contributed from New York.

Ryan Tarinelli, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November, 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches – a fact highlighted in a report released by the BC Humanist Associaton on Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Christian-based prayer at inaugural Vancouver Island council meetings violates court ruling

Blessings violate Supreme Court decision that prayer in council is discriminatory

Karl Ablack, chair of the Port Renfrew Recovery Task Force, says visitors should steer clear of the community after the second wave of COVID has begun to hit across the province. (Black Press Media file photo)
Port Renfrew, Pacheedaht First Nation asks visitors to steer clear of community again

Tight-knit community of 400 has yet to report single case of COVID

The BCCDC has added WestJet flight 3349 on Nov. 23 to its flight exposure list. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
New COVID-19 exposure on WestJet flight from Edmonton to Victoria

The BCCDC has added WestJet flight 3349 on Nov. 23 to its flight exposure list

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

Port McNeill councillor Derek Koel busts a rap to help promote the town’s active transportation plan. (Facebook video screenshot)
VIDEO: Vancouver Island councillor makes rap video to promote active transportation plan

Active transportation is a personal matter for councillor Derek Koel.

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

Most Read