Rabbi stabbed in Ukrainian synagogue

Ukrainian man attacks rabbi with scissors after inquiring about possible employment opportunities. 'He could have murdered me,' says rabbi.

David Rosenberg,

Synagogue in Ukraine (illustration)
Synagogue in Ukraine (illustration)
Photo: Mendy Hechtman / Flash 90

An anxious job-seeker in the Ukrainian town of Medzhybizh tried finding work at the local synagogue, but when he was told to come back later he became incensed – and tried to stab the rabbi.

The rabbi in question says it was a miracle no one was hurt and that the man could have murdered him.

The incident in question occurred Friday evening, as Shabbat prayers were concluding and congregants prepared to go home for the Shabbat evening meal. A non-Jewish man suddenly arrived at the synagogue gates demanding to speak with the rabbi.

The rabbi told the synagogue guard to allow the man in to speak with him.

When the man entered the synagogue, he was ushered into the rabbi’s office, where he proceeded to ask about any job openings. Because the Sabbath had already begun, the rabbi could not discuss business matters, and asked the man to return after Shabbat ended to continue the conversation.

At that point, the rabbi relates to BeHadrei Haredim, the man went berserk, thrashing about and cursing loudly. He quickly pulled out a pair of sharp scissors and tried to attack the rabbi, attempting to stab him and cut off his beard.

The rabbi managed to shove the man to the ground and called for help. Congregants quickly entered the room and restrained the attacker.

“It was really a miracle,” says the rabbi. “I was lightly wounded when he stabbed me a few times, but the big miracle was that I was able to knock him down – I was alone with him in the room and I don’t want to think what would have happened if I hadn’t been able to overpower him; luckily for me, the congregants came to my aid, otherwise he could have murdered me.”

Despite the seriousness of the man’s actions, however, the rabbi noted that local police did little following the attack.

“The police here are extremely negligent. They freed the man after interrogating him for a few hours [despite the fact that] the man was mentally unstable,” the rabbi said.


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