Rabbi Stabbed in New York Hanukkah Attack Dies of Wounds

Five Orthodox Jewish men were injured in the attack on a synagogue in Monsey, for which the attacker was charged with a federal hate crime

Nicky Kohen, the daughter of Josef Neumann who passed away after an attack at a Hanukkah celebration, speaks to reporters, New York, January 2, 2020
Seth Wenig,AP

The most critically injured victim of a December stabbing attack in the New York Orthodox town of Monsey, Josef Neumann, has died from his injuries. 

The December 28th attack, which took place at a Rabbi’s Hanukkah party and was prosecuted as a case of domestic terrorism, occured just before 9 P.M., at the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who was hosting an event for tor the seventh night of Hanukkah.

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The suspect, who entered with a scarf over his face and stabbed people with a machete, initially fled the scene. The New York City Police Department arrested him after locating his vehicle in Harlem. He was identified as Grafton E. Thomas, a 37 year-old African-American resident of Greenwood Lake, New York.

Federal prosecutors said Thomas had handwritten journals containing anti-Semitic comments as well as a a swastika, and had researched Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews online. Thomas pleaded not guilty to charges of commiting a federal hate crime charges as well as state charges, including attempted murder. 

Five Orthodox Jewish men were injured in the attack, including Neumann, who was 72 years old.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called the attachan act of domestic terrorism fueled by intolerance and a “cancer” of growing hatred in America.

About a week after the stabbing, his family told the New York Post he was “not doing well” after undergoing brain surgery. 

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council wrote on Twitter that the funeral for Neumann, a father of seven and a great-grandfather, will be held Monday. No additional details were provided. 

The New York City area had seen an uptick in attacks over the week before the Monsey attack, with a dozen incidents reported in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Rockland County, where Monsey is located. The incidents are part of a larger trend of rising anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area over the past few years.