Leaders commemorate anniversary of Monsey machete attack, address rise in antisemitism
This weekend marks the beginning of Hanukkah, as well as almost three years since a Jewish man was killed and several others were injured in a hate-filled machete attack on a group celebrating the holiday.
Political and religious leaders came together at Ramapo Town Hall Wednesday night to commemorate that attack and address the rise in antisemitism across the state since.
The Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents released earlier this year counted more than 2,700 antisemitic attacks across the U.S. in 2021.
That marks a 34% increase from the year before, and the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
The event is part of the national "Shine A Light" campaign to raise awareness about antisemitism in America through education, community partnerships and workplace advocacy.
The program uses the story of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, to send a message that light can dispel darkness.
As for the machete attack, Grafton Thomas is accused of entering the home of a Hasidic rabbi in Monsey and stabbing guests on the seventh night of Hanukkah on Dec. 28, 2019.
Five people were injured. Three months later, the most severely injured victim, 72-year-old Josef Neumann, died from his injuries.
Thomas, who has a history of mental illness, was charged in state court with murder, attempted murder and assault.
He also faces hate crime charges in federal court.
Both cases are expected to get updates next year after two judges, one at the state and one at the federal level, ruled him unfit to stand trial.
Just this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul launched a statewide hate and Bias Prevention Unit as part of the state Human Rights Division.
The unit will lead public education and outreach efforts, serve as an early warning detection system, and respond to communities where a bias incident has occurred.
According to Gov. Hochul, the state's Human Rights Division already investigates more than five thousand discrimination complaints each year.