What to Know
- New York officials have ordered increased security presence in Jewish communities after a rise in anti-Semitic attacks
- Hanukkah celebrations continued despite a vicious stabbing in Monsey, New York
- Jewish lawmakers called upon Governor Cuomo to declare a state of emergency
On the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, police in Monsey, New York, stood guard outside the home of Rabbi Rottenberg during scheduled celebrations — just a day after an attacker walked inside his residence and stabbed five people.
While increased police and security presence have been ordered across New York state by elected leaders following anti-Semitic attacks in and around the New York City area, the hateful crimes didn't stop the Jewish community in Rockland County from lighting the final candle on their menorahs.
Rabbi Rottenberg thanked first responders in a statement read through a spokesperson Sunday night, expressing relief, knowing the man allegedly responsible for the stabbing was in custody.
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"Last night's brutal attack sent shockwaves through our community and around the world. Yet with God's help, the casualties were less extensive than what might have been," said Shoshana Bernstein.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered state police to increase patrols in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods around the state, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised additional officers in several neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
Despite the ongoing attacks against the Jewish community in recent weeks, Hanukkah celebrations continued Sunday. In Monsey, a previously scheduled Torah procession became a symbol of perseverance and light, less than 24 hours after violence and darkness.
"The best way to move forward and demonstrate we are not afraid and these people don't deserve our fear is to keep doing what we're doing and to keep demonstrating and practicing our faith," said Alexander Rosemberg of the Anti-Defamation League.
Flanked by elected officials and Jewish leaders Sunday afternoon, de Blasio announced a three-part initiative to protect Jewish communities and prevent violence with the creation of new Neighborhood Safety Coalitions, increased police presence and youth education.
The coalitions, created in communities like Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park, will focus on identifying and addressing "issues that drive hate-based crimes, bringing together stakeholders from across their communities," de Blasio's plan states. He also promised new light towers and additional security cameras.
"We have to give people a sense of security. We have to show that this horrible trend we've seen over the last few weeks will be stopped dead in its tracks," de Blasio said.
The ongoing violence prompted crime prevention groups such as the Guardian Angels to step out on patrol themselves. Donned in their red jackets, the volunteers made their way through Brooklyn neighborhoods.
While additional security marks a noticeable change, a number of lawmakers say more needs to be done.
A number of Orthodox Jewish lawmakers around the city sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo asking for further steps to address anti-Semitism, including the appointment of a special prosecutor and a state of emergency declaration to deploy the use of the National Guard.
"Christmas has ended, Hanukkah will end tomorrow night... We should be celebrating this week, celebrating life, not commemorating the loss of life and the attack on life," Rabbi Joseph Potasnik lamented at Mayor de Blasio's press conference.