A machete-wielding man burst into the home of Rabbi Chaim L. Rottenberg in Monsey, New York, Saturday night during a Hanukkah celebration, yelling “No one is going anywhere” and swinging his weapon “wildly” before stabbing five congregants.
When the man entered just before 10 p.m., people were in the process of leaving the Rabbi’s home and entering the adjacent synagogue. One man threw a coat rack and other furniture at the attacker, while those who had already made it into the synagogue quickly closed and barricaded the door to prevent the suspect from entering.
Aron Kohn told The New York Times he was inside the residence during the stabbings.
“I was praying for my life,” said Kohn, 65. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all. I ran into the other room because I tried to save my life. I saw him running down this way, so I ran out and two ladies came along with me. They’re still hysterical.”
Developing story: Reports of a stabbing attack at a synagogue in Monsey, Rockland County, New York. The town has a large Orthodox Jewish community.
Footage recorded at the scene and shared on WhatsApp by people in the community: pic.twitter.com/mOylEp0XQ0
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) December 29, 2019
Surveillance video captured the suspect, who was later arrested in Harlem, driving away from the scene.
VIDEO: Right after the #Monsey stabbing, the Rabbi and his followers gathered in the synagogue next door to his home (where the attack took place), and continued the celebrations. "The grace of God did not end and his mercy did not leave us," is a rough translation of the lyrics. pic.twitter.com/fRPP7kVypP
— OJPAC (Hudson Valley Account) (@OJPACHV) December 29, 2019
After the attack, the Rabbi continued the celebration. In the video above the group is singing a verse from Lamentations: “The kindness of the LORD has not ended, His mercies are not spent.”
CBS New York captured video of the suspect leaving the precinct in an unmarked car.
🛑 First footage published of #Monsey attack suspect, who was just apprehended in Harlem.
He doesn't quite seem like a 'white extremist' to me … pic.twitter.com/C0935aUQMd
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) December 29, 2019
This is the second stabbing attack in two months in Monsey, which is an “Ultra-Orthodox” community.
This is the second time a stabbing attack is taking place in Monsey, in the last 2 months, against the orthodox community. This is unacceptable. We demand action. pic.twitter.com/bdNlh3qINc
— Claire Voltaire (@Claire_Voltaire) December 29, 2019
The New York State Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack.