After firecrackers were detonated at the houses of two New City Chabad rabbis on Wednesday night, the Anti-Defamation League has offered a $2,5000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The reward was announced Thursday by Evan Bernstein, ADL’s New York regional director. The announcement came at a “Rally Against Hate” held at the old Rockland courthouse. Speakers at the rally included Rockland County Executive Ed Day; Rockland Commissioner of Human Rights Penny Jennings; Gary Siepser, chief executive officer of the Rockland Jewish Federation; David Kirschtel, CEO of the Rockland JCC; State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski; and State Senator David Carlucci.
“A piece of hate revealed itself in this community,” Mr. Day told the rally, “and we are here to speak out against it in unison to ensure that that small piece of hate does not become an identifying factor for this county; that the goodness of this county is.
“These were two rabbis, two men of the cloth whose homes were targeted in some way – either coincidentally or otherwise – to have incendiary devices exploded in front of their homes. That, to me, talks of a hate crime,” he said.
Police are investigating the incident as criminal mischief. A witness reported having seen a group of four men, perhaps teenagers, throw a firecracker at the house of Rabbi Simcha Morganstern. A firecracker wrapper was found between cars parked in front of the house of Rabbi Avremel Kotlartsky. Rabbi Kotlarsky is the senior rabbi of New City Chabad and Rabbi Morganstern is associate.
“The potential that it is bias crime cannot be ruled out and if that is found to be the case, I will ensure it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Clarkstown Town Supervisor George Hoehmann.
Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe said he believed the violence was a consequence of the rancor within the community surrounding conflicts between ultra-Orthodox Jews and their neighbors.
“Legitimate policy issues are continually being mixed in with anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Mr. Wolfe said in a statement. “I’ve been saying for months that such words eventually turn into hateful, violent actions.”