A man attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late Saturday, stabbing and wounding five people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said.
The attack appeared to be the latest in a series targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey this month.
Police said the stabbings happened around 10 p.m. in Monsey, one of several Hudson Valley towns that have seen an influx of Hasidic Jews in recent years.
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said hours later that New York City police had located a vehicle and possible suspect being sought in connection with the stabbing.
Police wouldn’t immediately confirm whether anyone was in custody.
Top state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Atty. Gen. Leticia James, released statements condemning the attack.
Investigators cordoned off the large home on Forshay Road with yellow crime scene tape as of 3 a.m. Sunday. Onlookers gathered nearby and watched as officers collected evidence and worked to determine what occurred hours earlier. A number of police and emergency vehicles also remained at the scene.
The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey said it is also aware of reports and was at the scene in Monsey.
Monsey is about an hour north of New York City.
The Ramapo Police Department, which services Monsey, declined to comment.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Hasidic rabbi while the group was celebrating Hanukkah.
According to public records, the home belongs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the synagogue adjacent to the residence. Several state and local officials have described the location of the stabbing as a synagogue.
Saturday was the seventh night of Hanukkah.
Aron Kohn, 65, told the New York Times that he was inside the house when the stabbings occurred.
“I was praying for my life,” Kohn said. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”
Weidel said the five people were taken to hospitals for treatment. It was unclear what the extent of their injuries were or what the assailant’s motive was.
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: anti-Semitism 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 a statement. “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.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also condemned the attack on Twitter, saying a collective effort is needed to stop future incidents.
“Shocked and outraged by the terrible attack in #NY and praying for the recovery of those injured. #Antisemitism is not just a #Jewish problem, and certainly not just the State of #Israel’s problem,” he tweeted. “We must work together to confront this rising evil, which is a real global threat.”
Jewish communities in the New York City metro area have been troubled after a deadly Dec. 10 shooting rampage at a northern New Jersey kosher market. The two assailants, a police officer and three people who had been inside the store died in the shooting. New Jersey Atty. Gen. Gurbir Grewal said the attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.
In November, a man was stabbed while walking to a Monsey synagogue. The man required surgery. It’s unknown if the person suspected in that stabbing has been arrested.
Around New York City, police have gotten at least six reports this week — and eight since Dec. 13 — of attacks possibly propelled by anti-Jewish bias.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that a police presence would increase in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.