The New York State Police charged Grafton Thomas, a Village of Greenwood Lake resident, in connection with the stabbing of five people at the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in Monsey, Rockland County.
Thomas, 37, was arraigned Sunday and charged with second-degree attempted murder. He was ordered held on $5 million bail.
The attack on Saturday night was the latest in a string of attacks against Jews in New York and New Jersey. It came less than three weeks after a deadly shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market that the New Jersey attorney general said was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed a state hate crimes task force to investigate the Dec. 23 assault week of an Orthodox Jewish man in Manhattan. Another attack on a Jewish man happened Dec. 24 in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. On Nov. 20, an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed and slashed near a synagogue in Monsey.
On Sunday, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler issued the following statement in response to the Saturday night attack:
“Whether or not it is determined that this particular crime was motivated by hate, there is no denying that anti-Semitic crimes are on the rise,” Hoovler said. “I have full faith in the ability of the New York State Police and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office to determine the facts and circumstances of this horrendous event and proceed accordingly.
"Given the possibility, and what will be the public’s understandable and inevitable concern that this was a hate crime, particularly in light of recent anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn, and the tragedy in Jersey City, we must stand together and send a clear message that there is absolutely no room for hate-motivated crimes here in Orange County, or anywhere else for that matter. Anti-Semitic actions and messages do not reflect the values of the overwhelming majority of Orange County residents. Those who engage in hate crimes will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted by my office."
Hoovler said the county has devoted resources to fighting hate crimes. Police officers are trained, in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, to recognize and investigate hate crimes. The county has hired a specially trained investigator dedicated to investigating hate crimes. And a senior prosecutor has been assigned to coordinate efforts in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.
In addition, said Hoovler, the district attorney's office, in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, developed an informational brochure, Speak Up to Stand Up Against Hate, as well as a related poster, for distribution to schools and the general public.
The district attorney's office has also established a hate crimes hotline, 800-378-1411, that residents can use to report incidents.
'Attacks against Jews are out of control'
"The attacks against Jews are out of control, and we must have a concrete strategy to address the rise of these attacks,'' said former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism.
"We are appalled at the sheer frequency and aggressive nature of these incidents,'' Evan Bernstein, the the Anti-Defamation League's regional director in New York and New Jersey, said in a news release. "They're made particularly heinous by the fact they are occurring during a time when society is supposed to come together in peace for the holidays, and as the Jewish community is particularly on edge as it's reeling from the deadly attack in Jersey City on Dec. 10."
Editor's note: The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.