The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week expressed shock and outrage over an incident in which incendiary devices were detonated in front of the homes of two rabbis in Rockland County, New York.
According to reports, on the evening of August 9, a device exploded in New City under a car parked outside the home of Rabbi Simcha Morgenstern, an associate rabbi at the Chabad of Rockland. Moments later, a similar attack took place one block away in front of the home of Avremel Kotlarsky, the Director of Chabad.
The series of small explosions occurred around 10:30 p.m. near the Chabad Lubavitch of Rockland, at 315 N. Main St., Rabbi Kotlarsky said. Kotlarsky, the rabbi at the Chabad, said he found a firecracker wrapper in his yard, but wasn’t sure exactly what caused the explosions, according to a lohud.com report. Although no one was injured, Kotlarsky described the explosions as “coordinated” and a “premeditated hate crime.”
The site also reported that that evening, a group of about 15 people were gathered in the quarters of associate Rabbi Simcha Morgenstern, located in a two-family structure at the Jewish religious center on Phillips Hill Road. “All of a sudden, we heard an explosion outside,” Kotlarsky said.
Kotlarsky said he believed some sort of firecracker was thrown near Morgenstern’s residence and exploded under one of the vehicles parked in the driveway. “It sounded like a boom — like a sonic boom,” he said.
“We are outraged by this shocking incident in what appears to be the alleged targeting of two prominent rabbis, and we join with local leadership, including the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, in strongly condemning this brazen act of violence,” said Evan R. Bernstein, ADL New York Regional Director. “We are maintaining close contact with local law enforcement and are urging them to vigorously investigate and prosecute those responsible for this alleged anti-Semitic attack.
“While we are relieved that nobody was injured, such a troubling incident like this can effectively intimidate the broader Jewish community, leaving them feeling vulnerable and at risk,” Mr. Bernstein said. “People of any religion, race or ethnicity must feel safe in their own neighborhoods. We are pleased to see statements by local elected officials denouncing the incident and we encourage the community to come together to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.”
ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, which tracks both criminal and non-criminal acts of anti-Semitism, documented 14 incidents in Rockland County, Westchester and upstate New York in 2015.