Monday, December 6th | 2 Tevet 5782

August 11, 2016 12:57 pm

Homes of Two New York Rabbis Hit in Alleged Coordinated Firecracker Attack

avatar by Lea Speyer

Photo: Tony Webster/ Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Tony Webster/ Wikimedia Commons

Two Rockland County, New York rabbis were the target of an alleged coordinated firecracker attack outside their homes Tuesday evening, NBC New York reported.

According to the report, one explosion was heard near the home of Rabbi Avremel Kotlarsky, the director of Chabad of Rockland by a woman, who told police she saw four young men — possibly teenagers — running away. One of the them then threw a firecracker at her house, which exploded next to a tree, causing it to catch fire.

While investigating the incident, police said they were told of a second explosion nearby, at the home of Rabbi Simcha Morganstern, an associate rabbi at Chabad. A firecracker was later found between three parked cars, the report said.

“The intent seemed to be that it was clear, whether they were looking to frighten, or looking to terrorize, or intimidate,” Kotlarsky was quoted as saying by The Journal News. He described one of the explosions as sounding like a “sonic boom.”

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Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New York Director Evan R. Bernstein condemned the apparent antisemitic attacks and urged police to “vigorously investigate” the issue.

“We are outraged by this shocking incident in what appears to be the alleged targeting of two prominent rabbis, and we join with local leadership, including the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, in strongly condemning this brazen act of violence,” he said in a statement.

The ADL is “maintaining close contact with local law enforcement,” Bernstein said, adding that “such a troubling incident like this can effectively intimidate the broader Jewish community, leaving them feeling vulnerable and at risk.”

“People of any religion, race or ethnicity must feel safe in their own neighborhoods. We are pleased to see statements by local elected officials denouncing the incident and we encourage the community to come together to fight antisemitism and all forms of bigotry,” he said.

The ADL has announced a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the attackers.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day denounced the antisemitic incidents, saying in a statement, “There is no place for hate in our community. We condemn this apparent hate crime in the strongest possible terms.”

Alden H. Wolfe, the Rockland County Legislature chairman, said in a statement that the “climate of hate,” both nationally and in Rockland county, is “unacceptable.”

“Words have consequences. A climate of hate has consequences. Legitimate policy issues are continually being mixed in with antisemitic rhetoric. I’ve been saying for months that such words eventually turn into hateful, violent actions,” he said.

Following the attacks, police said they have increased their patrols in the area while they hunt for the perpetrators. 

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