The Orthodox Union, which represents the nation’s largest network of Orthodox synagogues, on Sunday expressed its deepest sympathy to the Jewish community of Monsey, New York, following the stabbing attack at a rabbi’s home on Saturday night.
“With anti-Semitic attacks occurring on a daily basis, we can no longer respond with platitudes. Acts of anti-Semitism must be treated as domestic terrorism, and our laws must be changed to reflect the impact of such crimes on our democratic values,” said Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin.
“We commend Gov. Andrew Cuomo for moving beyond expressions of horror, to recommending the kinds of concrete action that will eliminate this threat to our community. This was the ninth anti-Semitic attack in the New York City area in the past week. It is the fundamental responsibility of government to protect the safety of all of its citizens. This responsibility must be effectuated with all resources necessary to accomplish this purpose,” he added.
“All of us in the Jewish community share the pain of the Monsey community following this horrific act. The time for talk about anti-Semitic attacks is over – this is a time for action,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane.
Five people were wounded in Saturday night’s attack which took place as congregants gathered at a Hasidic synagogue operated by Rabbi Rottenburg in Monsey.
Some 50 to 60 people had gathered to light Hanukkah candles when the assailant, who was covering his face with a scarf, burst into the synagogue brandishing a machete, and began stabbing congregants.
Some congregants hurled chairs and a small table at the assailant, forcing him to flee.
The attacker drove off, making his way to New York City. Police found him roughly two hours later, at around midnight, after identifying his car via the license plate number.
The attacker, identified as 37-year-old Grafton Thomas, has been charged with five counts of attempted murder.
Earlier on Sunday, US President Donald Trump condemned the machete attack and called for a united front to “eradicate” anti-Semitism.
“The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific,” Trump tweeted.
“We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the attack as well, writing, “I’m saddened to hear the news about the mass stabbing at an Orthodox rabbi's house in New York last night. This despicable act of anti-Semitism during Hanukkah celebrations is sickening. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and the Jewish community.”