The latest violent anti-Semitic attack in the United States, left many Jews, especially those from religious background, wondering how to combat the phenomenon or whether to leave altogether and make aliyah to Israel.
Five people, believed to be Haredi Jews, were stabbed and wounded by a machete-wielding suspect as they gathered at a rabbi's home north of New York City to celebrate the seventh night of Hanukkah on Saturday evening. The alleged perpetrator, Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was on Sunday charged with five counts of attempted murder.
"I'm fine, but the community here is in shock," said Baruch Teitelbaum, a member of the local Jewish community in the town of Monsey where the attack took place.
Zvi Weill, also a member of Monsey’s religious Jewish community, arrived at the scene just minutes after the attack. "When I arrived, the police were already there,” he said in an interview with Ynet. “Eyewitnesses told me what happened. They said a tall, black man with a mask on his face entered the house, took out a machete and started brandishing it.”
Weill said once the news of the stabbings broke, the local Jews all locked themselves in their homes, fearing further attacks.
“We see what’s happening in Israel and how people react [to attacks], they shoot or fight back. We're just trying to escape," he said. “We are not fighters.”
According to him, anti-Semitic attacks against local Jewish community is a daily occurrence. "Every day someone throws a punch, flicks a hat of someone’s head or spray paints swastikas on the walls,” he said.
“It has become the norm. They hate us because they feel we are too comfortable.”
Weill also added that in the state of New York gun laws are much stricter and you can’t be out in public with a firearm, which makes it more difficult to defend yourself.
"We need to do what they do in Israel. Be aware,” he said. “We need to start protecting ourselves, closing the doors of our schools and kindergartens,” he added.
Weill added that he has always dreamt of living in Israel and now the prospect of making aliyah is becoming more of a possibility.
"I am 50 years old and I have always dreamt of living in Israel,” he said. “We have discussed it in the past and now I want it more than ever. A lot of people think about it, but we don't know what to do,” he added.
“The truth is, we belong in Israel, it's our home.”
First published: 10:05 , 12.30.19