An intruder entered the the home of Harav Chaim Leibish Rottenberg of Congregation Netzach Yisrael-Kosson in Forshay on Motzoei Shabbos while brandishing a machete, and stabbed five people before escaping in the confusion.
A witness told Hamodia that a tall African-American wearing gloves and a scarf covering his face exited a gray Nissan Sentra 4 door sedan on Orchard Street and entered Rav Rottenberg’s house where people had gathered to participate in his hadlakas neiros. Approximately 50 to 60 people remained in the house, and the perpetrator walked right up to the house and began slashing people with his knife.
The perpetrator then followed a person who ran into the kitchen and attacked him there, stabbing him several times and severely injuring him.
While the remaining people were lead out the back door, someone overturned a coat rack to slow the attacker, and Yosef Elya Gluck, who attended the hadlakas neiros of the Rebbe, threw a table at the perpetrator and chased him out of the house.
The perpetrator then tried to enter the shul, but a person standing near the doorway with his child ran quickly into the shul and locked door, and alerted others inside to lock all the doors, which prevented the suspect from entering the shul.
As the suspect ran outside, he was pursued by a person from the shul who pelted him with rocks, but he entered his car to make his getaway. Yosef Elya Glick was able to write down their plate number [HPT-5757] and hand it to the police. The car has been traced to the Greenwood Lake area, which is in Orange County bordering New Jersey.
[In a conversation on Sunday afternoon, Yosef Elya told with Hamodia that when he recited Hallel the next morning, “I translated each word of Hallel as the words came alive for me. Later in the day, as they celebrated a hachnasas sefer Torah in the neighborhood, I danced joyously as I sang the words tov lehodos laHashem ulezamer l’Shimcha elyon, chasdei Hashem ki lo samnu, and ahalila Elokai b’odi. This morning, I bentched gomel, together with many others in the shul.”]
Hatzalah evacuated five injured people to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern and Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. One was slashed in the arm, one in his foot, and one victim is was critically injured. A sixth victim was hit with the blunt end of the knife and was slightly injured with a cut.
Police have cordoned off the Forshay area in Rockland County, and most of the store in Monsey have closed as a precautionary measure.
Latest reports have the victims stabilized and out of surgery. Later in the evening, Rav Rottenberg gathered with the members of his kehillah to offer thanks to the Ribono Shel Olam for preventing a more serious tragedy from happening.
Town of Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht visited Rav Rottenberg this evening to discuss the incident and pledge his support.
Police reported that the car was spotted crossing the George Washington Bridge a few minutes after 11:00 p.m., and they began tracking the car as it made its way southbound. The car eventually crossed the 145th Street Bridge into Manhattan, and it was stopped at 144th Street and 7th Avenue at 11:55 p.m. The police took the driver into custody and he is being questioned by police.
Ramapo Police Chief Brad R. Weidel confirmed that a suspect was taken into custody and that he had sent detectives down to New York City to deal with the situation as it unfolds.
Police have not yet released the name or age of the suspect.
As of now it is not clear how the suspect knew about the gathering at Rav Rottenberg’s house, especially since it was later in the evening because it was on Motzoei Shabbos.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released as statement in which he expressed he anger at the stabbings which occurred in Rockland County.
“I am horrified by the stabbing of multiple people at a synagogue in Rockland County tonight — the latest in a string of attacks against members of the Jewish community in New York this week. This was a despicable and cowardly act, and I am directing the State Police hate crimes task force to immediately investigate and to use every tool available to hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law. State Police are currently on the scene assisting local law enforcement.
The governor re-iterated that these acts are repugnant and the state has absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate, and these actions will not go unpunished. He also announced that the Hate Crimes Task Force will investigate the incident.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City tweeted, “Horrific. So many Jewish families in our city have close ties to Monsey. We cannot overstate the fear people are feeling right now. I’ve spoken to longtime friends who, for the first time in their lives, are fearful to show outward signs of their Jewish faith.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted, “There is zero tolerance for acts of hate of any kind and we will continue to monitor this horrific situation.”
As word of the attack reached Israel, Shas chairman Rabbi Aryeh Deri said, “I was shocked this morning to learn of the anti-Semitic attack which occurred in a Rabbi’s house in New York during hadlakas neiros. Anti-Semitism is rearing its head in the United States, Europe and in other places around the world. We must raise a strong voice and battle it with the assistance of country leaders. We wish a full recovery to the injured and an embrace to the congregation in New York.”
Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) said, “The serious attack in Monsey, NY, during the hadlakas neiros of Chanukah is the cause of great concern for the Jewish World, which is combined with a string of frightening anti-Semitic acts lately in America and the world. It is terrifying that again and again, completely innocent people are attacked and persecuted just because they are Jewish. This is a worrisome trend which must be stopped by the leaders and authorities of the United States and the world, and eradicate this sickening plague. We pray for the the recovery of the injured and their families, and we lend our support to the congregation in Monsey.”
Please continue saying Tehillim for the complete refuah of Yosef ben Perel, Meir Yehosef ben Vittel, Shloime ben Vittel and Naftali Tzvi ben Gila.
Updated Sunday, December 29, 2019 at 12:06 am Statement from Yosef Elya Gluck