NEW YORK (JTA) — An Orthodox man was stabbed multiple times on his walk to synagogue for morning prayers.
The man was approaching the synagogue, Toshnad Heichel Torah Utfila in Spring Valley, New York, when a man got out of a car, began beating him and stabbed him. The assailant fled the scene before police and first responders arrived, according to Aaron Hershkowitz, an assistant to the synagogue’s rabbi. The incident occurred at approximately 5:45 a.m.
“Upon arrival it was quickly determined that the individual had been stabbed and slashed with an unknown weapon and not struck by a vehicle,” read a statement from the Town of Ramapo Police Department. “Investigation confirms that the victim who was walking to synagogue was stabbed more than once by at least one individual in the street.”
Yeshiva World News, which first reported the incident, reported that there were two assailants.
Rockland Hatzolah, an emergency medical service, reached the victim and began treating him. He is now undergoing surgery and is in critical condition, Hershkowitz said.
This morning, the Ramapo Police Department was unable to provide further information and told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the investigation is currently ongoing. Rockland Hatzoloh likewise did not comment on the details of the incident.
In a 12:30 PM press conference, the Ramapo Police Department said that “there will be additional and enhanced police patrols in the area to ensure the public safety.”
“Much of the information I am working with I am not in a position to share,” Chief Brad Weidel said in the conference. “Our victim was walking to synagogue and he was approached from behind by at least one or maybe more individuals. He was assaulted and stabbed, and stabbed more than once,” adding that they have not recovered the weapon.
At this time, “I am not willing to say that this is a hate crime,” Weidel said, noting that motivation and intent are required to establish that a hate crime occurred, and “we’re just not there yet.”
The motivation for the stabbing is still unknown. Some local residents of Rockland County, home to about 100,000 Jews, according to The New York Times, have recently objected to the presence of a growing Orthodox Jewish population, prompting accusations of anti-Semitism. In August, a county Republican Party ad accused Hasidic Jews of “plotting a takeover.”
The Anti-Defamation League is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
“This is truly horrifying,” Evan R. Bernstein, the ADL’s New York/New Jersey regional director, said in a statement Wednesday. “A peaceful walk to shul in the early morning hours is how this man started the day and now he in serious condition in a hospital because of this attack. There is absolutely no room in our communities for violence.”