$50,000 reward offered for information on NYC anti-Semitic attacker

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind says Crown Heights community ‘feels like they are under siege’ due to series of assaults, urges police to increase protection for Jews

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

A reward of $50,000 has been offered for information leading to the apprehension of a man who violently assaulted an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man while he was walking home from Shabbat services in New York City, according to a US assemblyman.

The New York State representative, Dov Hikind, did not name the “noted” philanthropist from Los Angeles who announced the reward.

Police have opened an investigation into the attack as an assault motivated by bias, after the victim, 52-year-old Menachem Moskowitz, said the assailant had told him he “hated Jews” and threatened to kill him.

“There’s one violent incident after another; one attack after another — always on innocent, vulnerable members of the Jewish community, and always with a racist, anti-Semitic message,” said Assemblyman Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn, in a statement.

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) has represented Brooklyn’s 48th District since 1983, serving an area that includes one of the largest Orthodox communities outside of Israel. (Courtesy)

“The Crown Heights community feels like they are under siege and this has to stop immediately. The police must increase their protection of these innocent people.”

“Will Brooklyn become like Paris now?” asked Hikind. “Will we start seeing people attacked with racial slurs on a regular basis? Do Jews here really have to fear for their lives from criminal thugs? We need a strong and immediate response to these hate crimes, and I won’t rest while this continues!”

In footage that emerged Monday of the brutal anti-Semitic assault, the attacker can be seen jumping on Moskowitz from behind in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, sending his hat and glasses flying into a nearby garden, beating him, pushing him up against an iron fence, and attempting to strangle him.

“I turned around and I see that he’s right behind me and he jumped me. And then he said ‘I hate Jews,’” Moskowitz told CBS late Sunday. “He put me in a headlock and I’m trying to maneuver out of him. In the meantime, I’m screaming ‘Help! Help! Help! Help!’ He says, ‘You don’t need help. I’m going to kill you right here.’”

Moskowitz sustained a cracked rib along with a black eye, swelling, bruising and scratches over his body.

It was the second attack against Jewish men in the neighborhood within a week.

Last Friday night, a Jewish man was assaulted in the Crown Heights near 770 Eastern Parkway, the international headquarters of the Chabad movement.

Moskowitz had been walking home from prayer services at about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon. He told the CrownHeights.info news website that he said, “Good afternoon” to a man who was smoking a cigar on a street corner.

“As soon as [I greeted] him, he began yelling at me, ‘You fake Jews, who are you saying hello to? You’re fake Jews and you stole all my money and robbed me, and stole my mortgage and my house. I want to kill you!’” the news website quoted the man as saying.

Moskowitz said he walked away from the man quickly but that the assailant caught  him and put him in a choke-hold and threatened to kill him.

Menachem Moskowitz, 52, who was assaulted and choked on his way back from Shabbat prayers in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, on April 23, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Two people eventually separated them and told Moskowitz to run. He called the Jewish ambulance service Hatzalah from his home, which notified police.

“Two nurses came. Medical, wearing white. Male and female,” he told CBS.

“There’s fear. There’s a lot of fear. The thing we know is that, unfortunately, there are people out there who want to kill us for one reason — because we are Jews,” his wife, Channah Moskowitz, was quoted by CBS as saying,

The Anti-Defamation League announced on Sunday that it is offering $5,000 rewards for information leading to the arrests and convictions of the individuals responsible for both attacks.

“We unequivocally condemn these senseless assaults,” said Evan R. Bernstein, ADL New York regional director. “We appreciate the leadership of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, who are investigating these assaults as hate crimes. Hopefully, these rewards will encourage anyone who may have seen something to come forward.”

ADL tracked 11 incidents of assaults motivated by anti-Semitism across New York State in 2017, seven of which occurred in Brooklyn. Statewide, incidents of anti-Semitism jumped over 90 percent in 2017.

JTA contributed to this report.

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