A knifeman attacked a Chanukah celebration at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late on Saturday, stabbing and injuring five people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said.
The attack appeared to be the latest in a string targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month.
Police said the stabbings happened at around 10pm in Monsey, one of several Hudson Valley towns that have seen an influx in large numbers of Chasidic Jews in recent years.
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said hours later that New York City police had located a vehicle and possible suspect. Sky News later reported that one suspect had been arrested.
Top state officials, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Leticia James, released statements condemning the attack.
Photos and videos posted on Twitter showed a large emergency response with paramedics running and pushing stretchers. A number of police and emergency vehicles could be seen in the images.
— ADL New York / New Jersey (@ADL_NYNJ) December 29, 2019
The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey says it was also aware of the reports and was at the scene in Monsey.
Monsey is about an hour north of New York City.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “We are outraged by this latest attack on Jewish people, celebrating Chanukah at home. We pray for the swift recovery of all the victims. There must be zero tolerance for acts of hate. ”
The Community Security Trust, which is responsible for securing the UK Jewish community said: “This was a terrible attack on a place of worship and our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families. It is another distressing reminder of why the security we have in the Jewish community is so necessary.”
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Chasidic rabbi while they were celebrating Canukah.
Several state and local officials described the location of the stabbing as a synagogue. The rabbi’s home is next door to a synagogue.
Saturday was the seventh night of Canukah.
Video from the scene of the stabbings at a synagogue in Monsey where Chassidim were gathered for a Hanukkah celebration. pic.twitter.com/wQhWp9SrdA
— Motti Seligson (@mottiseligson) December 29, 2019
Governor Cuomo, who called the stabbings a “cowardly act”, has directed the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate the attacks.
“Let me be clear: antisemitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate,” he said.
“In New York we will always stand up and say with one voice to anyone who wishes to divide and spread fear: you do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished.”
Police chief Mr Weidel said the five people were taken to hospital for treatment, but the extent of their injuries was not clear.
Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack.
The incident happened a month after a man needed surgery after being stabbed while walking to a synagogue in Monsey.
Jewish communities in the New York City metro area have been troubled following a deadly gun rampage at a northern New Jersey kosher market on December 10.
Six people died in the shooting, including the two killers, a police officer and three people who had been inside the store. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.
Around New York City, police have received at least six reports this week – and eight since December 13 – of attacks possibly prompted by anti-Jewish sentiment.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that the police presence would be increased in Brooklyn neighbourhoods with large Jewish populations.
I am horrified by the stabbing of multiple people at a synagogue in Rockland County tonight.
We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in NY and we will hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
NY stands with the Jewish community. pic.twitter.com/JILUoFXJc9
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 29, 2019