In Wake of Hanukkah Stabbing, New York Jews Reject Racial Divide

MONSEY, NY – Less than 24 hours after the stabbing attack that injured five Orthodox Jews at a rabbi's Hanukkah party in Monsey, the local community remains shaken but members say they refuse to succumb to racism and won't blame other marginalized communities for the attack.

Saturday night’s attack, which will be prosecuted as a case of domestic terrorism, occurred just before 10 P.M., at the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg who was wrapping up an event for the seventh night of Hanukkah. 

The suspect came in wearing a scarf over his face and stabbed people with a large knife before fleeing the scene. He was arrested by the New York City Police Department after they located his car in Harlem.

The suspect was identified as Grafton E. Thomas, a 37-year-old African American resident of Greenwood Lake, New York.

The New York City area has seen an uptick in attacks over the past week with a dozen incidents reported in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Rockland County, where Monsey is located. The incidents are part of a larger trend of rising anti-Semitic attacks in the area over the last few years, which many have warned could stoke ethnic tensions.

Over the first two nights of Hanukkah, New York City had already seen three anti-Semitic incidents: A group of African-American teens threw a drink at an Orthodox man in Brooklyn's Crown Heights and another African-American man assaulted a man in Manhattan’s Murray Hill area. The third incident was an apparent assault of a Jewish man, also in Crown Heights, on Tuesday afternoon. The Anti-Defamation League has offered a $10,000 reward for information about that incident.

“I utterly reject that kind of notion and sentiment [that African Americans are anti-Semitic],” local Orthodox Jewish politician Aron Wieder told Haaretz, standing outside the scene of the crime on Sunday. “There is absolutely no correlation.”