Monsey Hanukkah Party Hero Recalls Face-to-Face Confrontation With Antisemitic Attacker
A synagogue administrator who helped other guests get to safety before confronting the the machete-wielding assailant who stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York, on Saturday night is being hailed as a hero.
In a TV interview on Monday, Joseph Gluck recalled that the attacker, Grafton E. Thomas, had entered the house of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg just as the menorah-lighting ceremony was ending in the dining room.
“First he stood in the anteroom, hitting people right and left with a big machete knife,” Gluck told CNN. “That’s when I started to run out through a side door with all the people in the dining room. We ran to the back of the house, going out by the back door.”
Gluck said that he immediately turned and ran to the front of the house to offer further assistance. Going back inside, he quickly came face to face with Thomas.
“I grabbed the coffee table that was on the floor, hit him in his face, and that’s when he came back outside after me,” a visibly-exhausted Gluck continued. “He told me, ‘Hey you, I’ll get you!’ I was a few feet in front of him, I was screaming, ‘He’s coming, he’s coming!’
When Thomas returned to his car to drive away from the crime scene, it was Gluck who wrote down his license plate, enabling police in New York City to apprehend the 37-year-old attacker in uptown Manhattan a few hours after the attack.
Gluck also spoke about the sense of shock that descended on the community in the wake of the attack, particularly among its children.
“My kids couldn’t fall asleep, so they came into my bed that night,” Gluck said.
For children who had been in attendance at the party, the experience had been even more shattering. Gluck recalled that one child had hidden from Thomas under a pile of coats at the entrance to the dining room.
“A lot of the children were traumatized,” Gluck went on. “A lot of the adults were traumatized as well.”