Hanukkah Stabbing at Rabbi's House in New York Leaves 5 Injured, Hate Crime Police Task Force Investigates

Five people were stabbed at the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey, New York, on Saturday night.

According to the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC), reports of a mass stabbing were made at around 9.50 p.m. on December 28, 2019 at a house in Monsey, Rockland County—approximately 30 miles north of New York City.

Local and state police attended the scene where five members of the Hasidic community were stabbed during Hanukkah festivities. All five stab victims have been taken to a local hospital. Two have been declared critical.

The suspected perpetrator, who was later identified by authorities as Grafton Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, reportedly made an escape in a Nissan Sentra after the attack. He was later apprehended in Manhattan. In a Facebook post, the Ramapo Police Department said Thomas was arraigned in court late Sunday morning on five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. According to The Associated Press, Thomas pleaded not guilty, and bail was set at $5 million.

Prosecutors said that Thomas had blood on his jacket when he was apprehended by authorities.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said it was "heart-wrenching" to see Hanukkah tarred in this way "yet again"—"the Jewish community NEEDS greater protection."

"Whether worshiping in synagogue, shopping in the supermarket or celebrating at home, Jews should be safe from violence," said Greenblatt. "We need authorities to provide increased protection NOW and ensure that the full force of the law is brought down on those who perpetrate such horrific crimes."

In a statement released shortly after midnight New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was "horrified" by the Monsey stabbings, calling the acts "despicable" and "cowardly."

"Let me be clear: anti-Semitism and bigotary of any kind are repungnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate. In New York we will always stand up and say with one voice to anyone who wishes to divide and spread fear: you do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished."

Cuomo said a State Police hate crime task force has been called to investigate and hold the attacker accountable "to the fullest extent of the law."

President Donald Trump later tweeted his thoughts on the incident Sunday afternoon, writing: "The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific. We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery."

The attack is the latest in a string of crimes against members of the Jewish community to take place in New York this week.

On Friday, police arrested a woman accused of slapping three women in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, because she thought they were Jewish. Cuomo said it was the sixth anti-Semitic incident in New York City that week.

In response to the hate crimes, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to ramp up security around Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg.

Nationwide, attacks against members of the Jewish community appear to be on the rise.

The ADL's Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States recorded 1,879 acts in 2018, including an increase in the number of physical assaults.

That came a year after the ADL announced a (nearly) 60 percent rise in the number of anti-Semetic incidents, which the organization says is the largest single-year increase on record as well as the second highest number of acts reported since the 1970s.

Updated 4:14 PM ET, to include President Trump's tweet.

Hanukkah, stabbing
MONSEY, NY - DECEMBER 29: A member of the Ramapo police stands guard in front of the house of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg on December 29, 2019 in Monsey, New York. Five people were injured in a knife attack during a Hanukkah party and a suspect, identified as Grafton E. Thomas, was later arrested in Harlem. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/Getty
Hanukkah Stabbing at Rabbi's House in New York Leaves 5 Injured, Hate Crime Police Task Force Investigates | U.S.