NJ Reacts to NY Stabbing Attack at Rabbi’s Home During Hanukkah
Law enforcement and elected officials in New Jersey are among those decrying a violent attack which left five people stabbed at a rabbi's home next to a synagogue during a Hanukkah celebration in the Hudson Valley.
After the Saturday night attack in Rockland County, where Ramapo Police responded to the scene in Monsey, a suspect was arrested in the Harlem section of New York City, according to the NYPD.
"Our hearts are with the people of Monsey in the wake of yesterday’s horrific attack. Given the recent spike of anti-Semitism in our region, I’ve directed the State Police to increase security and law enforcement coordination around Jewish synagogues and community centers statewide," Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement on Twitter.
Murphy also shared a link to resources through the state Department of Homeland Security, adding "Anti-Semitism and hate have no place in New Jersey."
The conditions of the Monsey victims was unclear as of Sunday, though NBC New York reported at least two of the victims were believed to have been critically injured, according to the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council. The Council also said all five victims were Hasidic.
While law enforcement did not disclose a potential motive for the Saturday night stabbings, the attack was called "domestic terrorism" by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The same term was used by Murphy and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal following the targeted massacre at a Jersey City kosher supermarket earlier this month.
By Sunday afternoon, there were no publicly-known direct connections or links between the attacks, which prompted a wave of reaction denouncing anti-Semitism and senseless violence.
Grewal said on Twitter Sunday "Our thoughts are with our friends and neighbors in Monsey. Hanukkah should be a time of celebration. A rabbi's home should be a place of sanctuary. This violence must end."
"My prayers are with our neighbors just across the state line in Rockland County. I hope all the victims of this hate-driven, domestic terror attack make a full recovery," U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, said on Twitter Sunday.
“We are horrified by the senseless act(s) of violence in Monsey, New York last night. Anti-semitism, hatred and intolerance will not be tolerated in Ocean County. We stand united against hatred in all of its devious forms,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in a written statement on Facebook.
On Twitter, U.S. Senator and democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said "The increasing frequency of anti-Semitic attacks is horrifying. We must all join to stop them in their tracks and root out the hatred and ignorance at their core. My heart is with the victims in Monsey, their families, and the entire Jewish community."
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel identified the Monsey stabbing suspect as 37-year-old Thomas Grafton, of Greenwood Lake in New York's Orange County.
Grafton was to be arraigned in Ramapo Town Court late Sunday morning on five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, according to Weidel.
Witnesses told CBS New York Grafton used a machete in the attack.
The Monsey stabbings on the seventh night of Hanukkah followed a string of targeted violence against Jewish victims in recent weeks, according to police in New York.
An attack on three victims in Brooklyn Friday was the "sixth anti-Semitic incident in New York City" within a week, according to Cuomo on Twitter, where he also said Sunday "we must and will take strong action to keep this vile cancer of hate from spreading."
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of NY and NJ Regional Director Evan Bernstein also has been speaking out about the attack in Monsey and this month's string of anti-Semitic incidents in NJ and New York City.
The ADL released a statement Sunday that said it was at least the 10th anti-Semitic incident to hit the New York-New Jersey area in just the last week. "We are mourning another act of senseless anti-Semitic violence committed against our community last night in Monsey, NY and praying for those who were the victims of this hate," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
On Thursday, Grewal said "We have no tolerance for anti-Semitism. Period. We stand with our law enforcement partners in NYC in condemning these terrible acts. During this holiday season, we must find ways to push out hate and make room for love. Our society depends on it."
The state A.G.'s office previously announced an anti-bias public forum on Jan. 7 at Sussex County Community College in Newton.
Grewal and Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch will speak about ways to "combat the rising tide of bias, hate, and intolerance in our state."
The Jersey City attackers, 47-year-old David Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham, had known views of hatred toward Jewish people and law enforcement, Grewal previously has said. Both were killed during the ensuing shootout with law enforcement on Dec. 10.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.