‘We Are Genuinely Scared’: New York Jews Say Hanukkah Attack Shows ‘Words Have Consequences’

NEW YORK – The Jewish communities of New York are scared and confused after a man violently barged into the home of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration in the suburb of Monsey and stabbed five people, leaving one critically wounded, in an attack that follows a string of violent anti-Semitic events in the region.

"The community is genuinely scared and people are very confused. Many parents have asked whether they should send their children to school tomorrow," said Aron Wieder, a Rockland County legislator and himself an Orthodox Jew, in an interview with Haaretz. 

>> Five stabbed in New York attack on rabbi's home during Hanukkah celebration <<

"We don’t know what this particular incident was," Wieder said, adding that the perpetrator is currently being transported from New York City to Rockland County. "Regardless of what the answers are, people in their heads are connecting dots: They are connecting shootings, stabbings, New York City, Jersey City and Rockland County."

Wieder said he is collaborating with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of the community, with plans to add "more cameras, more security in public places, schools and synagogues." However, he noted that none of these measures can completely ensure safety. 

"We need to collectively get county leaders to denounce the hate and I don't think that has been done yet on the level where people should feel safe. I think there is much hatred on social media: It used to be people who post anonymously; now people don’t even hide their hateful rhetoric on social media – it has to be denounced." Wieder added. 

Jewish people walk in front of the house where 5 people were stabbed at a Hasidic rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, U.S., December 29. 2019. EDUARDO MUNOZ/ REUTERS

"People need to know that words have consequences. If you post horrible things about the Orthodox Jewish community, some crazy person might take it to the next level."