On Saturday, to celebrate the seventh night of Hanukkah, dozens of members of the Hasidic community in Monsey, a suburb north of New York City, gathered in the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg. Around 10 PM, a man entered and stabbed five people, in what New York governor Andrew Cuomo is calling an act of “domestic terrorism.”
One witness, Aron Kohn, told the New York Times, “I was praying for my life. He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.” He added, “We saw him pull a knife out of a case. It was about the size of a broomstick.”
The attacker fled Rottenberg’s home and reportedly tried to break into the nearby synagogue, Congregation Netzach Yisroel—but according to the Times, the people inside, also gathered for Hanukkah, managed to barricade the entrance after hearing screams from the rabbi’s house. A law enforcement official told NBC News that the suspect was apprehended in New York City after license plate readers in Harlem and the George Washington Bridge managed to locate him
In a statement, Cuomo said, “I am horrified by the stabbing of multiple people at a synagogue in Rockland County tonight. We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in NY and we will hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” He addressed reporters on Sunday morning, saying, “I consider this an act of domestic terrorism. Let’s call it what it is.”
Saturday’s attack was the latest in a surge of anti-Semitic violence in the last three years including deadly shootings by white nationalists at synagogues in Pennsylvania and California. In late November, an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed near a New York synagogue, and earlier this month, a a police officer and three bystanders were killed when two men attacked a Jewish market in Jersey City.