Chaim Rosenstein, liaison between the Jewish community and the city of Lauderhill, Florida, spoke to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News on the antisemitic incident which occurred there on Saturday in which an elderly Jewish man was assaulted.

Rosenstein, “I was on my way home from beit knesset, from the synagogue, when the incident was unfolding, so some of the details I witnessed firsthand and some of it I obviously heard shortly after the attack took place. I was leaving the shul at about 1:45 p.m. and the incident began around 1:30. Just to give you a little bit of a geographical idea of what goes on there. There are two shuls that are right near each other, and the victim was coming out of the other shul, not the one that I was at, where he was attacked. The attack only ended because a Good Samaritan, as we call them here in the US, a passerby, was driving by and started screaming at the attacker.”

Rosenstein continues, “So he fled, actually towards the shul that I was in. That's kind of where I started to see firsthand what was going on. Within minutes we realized that it was an antisemitic attack, simply based on the words that were exchanged between the attacker and the victim. It seems like he referred to him with a vulgar term, using the F word and saying, ‘you know, you effing Jew. I'm sick and tired of you guys.’ Something along those lines.”

Rosenstein expresses “feelings of deep concern and fear, because this has generally been a very, very safe neighborhood. Interestingly enough even though the city of Lauderhill, if anyone were to Google it, would see that it's not technically the safest city in Florida per se, but this area of Lauderhill, the Jewish area of Lauder Hill, is statistically extremely safe, with very low crime. So, this definitely induced fear in myself and my fellow community members.”

In the wake of the current events, Rosenstein says that they, “definitely have heightened awareness. I would say that already several months ago, even several months before the attack in Israel on October 7th, some community leaders, liaisons and myself were in communication with local PD, the local fire department, other members of local law enforcement, to coordinate that they should be aware of the times, on a weekly basis, that people are walking around the neighborhood, since here in Florida many people carry concealed weapons, but they're not carrying phones on Shabbat. Therefore, I was in touch with members of the police department with regards to the typical times that we're walking around, so that they can be in the area and if something were to happen they should be aware right away.”

Rosenstein understood that “they actually expedited the response of the police to the incident that happened on Shabbat, because after October 7th we had a meeting with the members of our city council, as well as law enforcement and they stepped up their game, as far as making sure that, unless the police on shift were responding to an emergency, they were in the vicinity of the two synagogues and, like I said, one of the responding officers was a block or two away at the time of the attack and was able to respond very quickly.”

Looking back at what happened and thinking how to prevent such incidents, Rosenstein says that “We're trying to process it. I fielded a message a few minutes ago from a concerned community member, saying ‘do we need to launch shemira [patrol units] on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. Instead of going to the shul, people were stationed on street corners. There's definitely a lot of concern. Last night I was on a 45-minute phone call with one of our city commissioners, trying to address these issues. I was in touch with several other members of our city commission and police department and on Wednesday evening there will be a meeting with the police and fire department. Members of the community, such as myself, will be there to address these concerns and try to figure out where do we go from here.”

In conclusion, Rosenstein says, “We're seeing what's going on in our homeland in Israel, since October 7th and on October 7th, and since then we're witnessing acts such as these, which are unfortunately spreading throughout the United States. My sister told me about incident that didn't make the news, for example, that her daughter, my niece, was on the New York City subway just yesterday and was approached by members of the New York City Police Department who told her to tuck in her Israel necklace, so it shouldn't be so visible, because it could make her a victim of an attack. This is not Germany in the 1930s. This is the US. We're talking about New York, or in this case, Florida in 2024. It's not acceptable. It's not okay. It must not be tolerated, and we have to address it with everything we’ve got.”