Eighteen-year-old Shaul Spitzer was allegedly dispatched in May by a local community rabbi, David Twersky, to attack Aron Rottenberg for his refusal to pray in Twersky’s synagogue. The firebomb badly burned Rottenberg and also scorched the hands and arms of the young boy, whose knowledge of the world is reportedly severely restricted due to the insular community from which he derives.
“[He’s] never seen TV, never been on the Internet, doesn’t know who Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter are,” lamented defense attorney Kenneth Gribetz, according to CBS News. “[He has] no exposure to the outside world.”
Gribetz was alarmed such a benighted youngster was now going to deal with difficult years behind bars.
“His whole life has been the rabbi and the synagogue and now he’s going to state prison,” he added. “This is a very severe sentence for a boy from New Square. I hope he can be safeguarded.”
New Square is home to approximately seven thousand residents, the bulk of which are faithful adherents of the Skver Hassidic sect.
In February, the teenager pled guilty to charges of assault, dodging an attempted-murder trial that would have attracted even greater attention to his religious community.
Rabbi Twersky, who leads the New Square community, denied involvement in the incident. He is of a rich rabbinical lineage that dates back to the founder of the skver hassidim, Rebbe Yitzchok Twerski.
Rottenberg, a local plumber, asserted the rabbi inspired Spitzer to act against him. In a profoundly insular community, Rottenberg was allegedly deemed an outlier because he would lead services at the Freidland Center, a nursing home, rather than attend Twersky’s shul.
A settlement of $2.3 million was reached earlier. Rottenberg asked Rockland County Court Judge William Kelly to extend sympathy to Spitzer, and the judge commuted the boy’s sentence to seven years from the ten reached in the plea deal, according to CBS.
Gribetz, Spitzer’s attorney, said the resulting judgment was meted “fairly and compassionately.”
“I did not want to hurt him, Mr. Rottenberg or his family,” Spitzer told Judge Kelly in court Tuesday, according to The Journal News. “I am not so upset for myself but for my parents, grandparents. I made so many problems for them and the Rottenbergs. I know I have to pay the price.”
Outside the courtroom, Rottenberg said he was satisfied with the outcome of the suit.
“I think that justice has been served,” he stated. “We’re pleased. We hope to meet again under different circumstances.”