Jersey City rampage victims remembered as generous Satmar community members

Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, mourned after deadly shootout in a kosher supermarket

New York City police guard a Brooklyn synagogue prior to a funeral for Moshe Deutsch, December 11, 2019. Insert: Jersey City synagogue shooting victims Leah Mindel Ferencz, left, and Moshe Deutsch, right. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan/courtesy)
New York City police guard a Brooklyn synagogue prior to a funeral for Moshe Deutsch, December 11, 2019. Insert: Jersey City synagogue shooting victims Leah Mindel Ferencz, left, and Moshe Deutsch, right. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan/courtesy)

Two of the Jewish victims of the Jersey City shooting rampage were remembered on Wednesday as a dedicated mother of five “full of love,” and a charitable young member of the Satmar Hasidic community who was involved in the founding of the local yeshiva.

A police officer, three bystanders and the two suspects all died in the violence Tuesday afternoon in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City. Two of the bystanders have been identified by local community members as Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, both members of the local ultra-Orthodox community.

The 40-year-old slain officer, Detective Joseph Seals, who led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years, was cut down by gunfire that erupted near a cemetery. The gunmen then drove a stolen rental van to another part of the city and engaged police in a lengthy shootout from inside the kosher market, where the five other bodies were later found.

Ferencz, 33, was part-owner of JC Kosher Supermarket. Shortly before the gunmen stormed the store, her husband, Moishe, went to the synagogue next door to pray, according to Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro.

Two of the victims from yesterday’s attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City. Moshe Hersh Deutch, 24-years-old….

Posted by Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

“He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,” Schapiro said. “His wife was inside the store. He said, ‘I hope my wife is safe.’”

Ferencz was among the first in the tight-knit Satmar Hasidic community to relocate from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Jersey City amid soaring housing prices, according to Rabbi David Niederman, president of a Satmar community organization, United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn.

“She was a caring and nurturing mother for her five children, and at the same time helped her husband who ran the first kosher grocery in the area, to ensure that the community’s families have were to shop and feed their children,” he said. “A life of selflessness, and dedication to others, full of love, was cut short by vicious hate-filled murders.”

Niederman said the second Jewish victim, Moshe Deutsch, 24, whose father was on the organization’s board, was “extremely kind and generous.”

“Moshe Deutsch may he rest in peace, was dedicated to studying his Jewish faith everyday by learning in a yeshiva he was instrumental in establishing and getting off the ground. He was extremely kind and generous and was the go-to person when his peers needed help,” he said in a statement.

“The community lost a promising-upcoming charitable person who was spreading love and kindness. He was butchered by people filled with poisonous animosity,” he added.

We are heartbroken to inform you that one of the victims of yesterday's horrific attack in Jersey City was our own…

Posted by Chai Lifeline on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Satmar community representative also sent condolences to the family of Seals, 40, who “selflessly devoted and gave his life to protect others from gun violence.” Seals was also a father of five.

“They represent the finest among us,” he said of New Jersey law enforcement.

The victims’ names were not officially named by authorities. It remained unclear when their bodies would be released for burial.

The mayor of Jersey City said Wednesday it’s clear that the gunmen targeted a Jewish market.

Mayor Steven Fulop refused to call it an anti-Semitic attack but said surveillance video shows the gunmen driving slowly through the city’s streets, and then stopping outside a kosher grocery store where they calmly got out of their van and immediately opened fire.

Neither the state attorney general, who is running the investigation, nor any other law enforcement authority has confirmed the shooters targeted Jews. City Public Safety Director James Shea said Tuesday that terrorism wasn’t suspected.

Nonetheless, local officials announced heightened protection for Jewish institutions.

One of the suspected shooters posted anti-Semitic and anti-police content online, according to The New York Times.

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