New York City’s Jewish community heaved a sigh of relief over the weekend after the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and New York Police Department (NYPD) announced they had stopped “a developing threat to the Jewish community.”
But some, while grateful to law enforcement, are worried other threats could be lurking around the corner.
“[NYPD] just got into the thick of it after receiving the threats, and in the morning, we were already informed that the accomplices were caught. Thank God," Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld tells Ynet.
Two suspects were arrested on Saturday at Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. They were later identified as Christopher Brown, 21, from Aquebogue, New York; and Matthew Mahrer, 22, of Manhattan.
Officers seized weapons, including an illegal firearm and a large hunting knife; ammunition; and a Nazi armband apparently belonging to the suspects, according to reports.
Rabbi Weinfeld thanks divine providence the plot did not materialize.
“We received the news on Friday night after the crowd had already returned home from the synagogues, but those who have walkie-talkies, the rescue and security companies, were instructed by the rabbis to spread the news and the portrait of the suspect,” he says.
“It later turned out that there was another suspect, and we were instructed to look for their faces in the crowd before the next morning’s prayer sermon and go immediately to the police.
We warned the public to be on alert... that's why we gathered in all the synagogues and studied [the Holy Scriptures], to strengthen the public, along with vigilance. By the way, the police are still deployed all over Brooklyn, in all the synagogues."
Rabbi Weinfeld says that while community leaders cannot share all the information about the case, the immediate threat was removed.
However, he urges congregants to carry a firearm with them to prayer.
"We have to be vigilant because those who hate us did not suddenly start loving us. We have to keep our eyes open; we have to be allowed to carry a weapon around, with a permit; and we have to pay close attention to who enters a synagogue, what he brings to a synagogue, if we know him, and place certain restrictions on guest admissions.”
The foiled plot in New York comes only a week after a resident of New Jersey was arrested on suspicion of threatening to attack synagogues and Jews.
New York State reports the highest number of antisemitic incidents in all of the United States. In 2021, 416 such incidents were reported in the state, including 51 attacks.