BOSTON (AP) — A rabbi stabbed near a Jewish day school in Boston is recovering in the hospital and a suspect has been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, authorities said.
Rabbi Shlomo Noginski is in “stable condition and in good spirits” after being stabbed several times in the arm, Rabbi Dan Rodkin, executive director of Shaloh House, posted on Facebook. The injuries are not considered life-threatening, according to police.
The stabbing occurred just after 1 p.m. Thursday in the city’s Brighton neighborhood, police said in a statement.
Initial reports said a man approached Noginski, who was outside talking on his phone. He drew a gun and told Noginski to take him to his car. When he tried to force him inside, Noginski tried to flee and the man stabbed him repeatedly.
Khaled Awad, 24, was arrested soon after the incident and faces arraignment Friday. It could not be determined if he has an attorney.
The motive for the stabbing remains unclear and police are still investigating, but District Attorney Rachael Rollins said at a vigil in support of Noginksi on Friday her office has opened a civil rights investigation.
“We have to recognize that antisemitism is on the rise, and we need to hold people accountable when they do this, so that they are made an example of,” Rollins said at the vigil not far from the stabbing site attended by several hundred people.
Some who attended the rally think it was a hate crime.
“We must investigate this incident as a hate crime. I don’t think there’s a member of our Jewish community who did not hear about this stabbing and think to themselves, ‘Oh my God, it’s happened here in Boston,’” said Marc Baker, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
“While we await further details & pray for his recovery, let me say plainly that all of our neighbors deserve to live free from fear. Antisemitism is a clear and persistent threat to our communities,” tweeted Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayana Pressley.
The attack on the rabbi was an attack on the entire city, acting Mayor Kim Janey said.
“I believe that an attack on any member of our community is an attack on all of us.”
The suspect approached the rabbi while he was talking on the phone, sitting on the steps of the school, Rodkin said.
Today's attack on a rabbi in #BrightonMA has sent a shockwave of fear & anxiety throughout the community. As this investigation unfolds, we call for full transparency so that the community gets answers as to why a rabbi was stabbed outside of his house of worship. pic.twitter.com/w6NwxKpuqV
— ADL New England (@ADL_NewEngland) July 1, 2021
The suspect demanded the rabbi’s car keys and Noginski ran across the street to a park where he was stabbed, Rodkin said.
As soon as the school became aware of the stabbing, the facility went into lockdown and no children were ever in danger, Rodkin said in the Facebook post.
Noginski is an Israeli citizen who came to the Boston area as an emissary to spread the Chabad message, Consul General of Israel to New England Meron Reuben told the Boston Herald.
“We are horrified by what has happened,” Reuben said.
Noginski spoke to Lubavitch.com from his hospital bed.
“I am grateful to the Boston Police Department for their rapid response, and relieved that the perpetrator is in custody. I am looking forward to returning to my work as soon as possible,” he said.
The Anti-Defamation League of New England in a statement said the stabbing “sent a shockwave of fear and anxiety throughout the community.”
“As this investigation unfolds, we call for full transparency so that the community gets answers as to why a rabbi was stabbed outside of his house of worship,” Robert Trestan, the organization’s regional director, said in the statement.
Recent months have seen a surge in antisemitic incidents across the US, particularly following the 11-day conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip in May.