Friday, October 12, 2007

If this isn't a hate crime, nothing is ... Rabbi beaten with baseball bat in New Jersey

Video from WCBS here.

and this from the
Associated Press via Haaretz:

An orthodox Jewish man walking in Lakewood, New Jersey. (AP)

A man wielding an aluminum baseball bat attacked an Orthodox Jewish rabbi walking to synagogue last week, critically injuring the 53-year-old man and threatening to strain the already tense ethnic relations in a New Jersey city, officials and residents said.

The beating of Mordechai Moskowitz, reportedly at the hands of am African-American man, has put residents on edge in Lakewood, a diverse city of 70,000 near the Jersey Shore that is home to a large Orthodox Jewish population, as well as black and Hispanic communities.

An Orthodox Jewish middle school teacher was found not guilty this summer of assaulting a black teenager. And a few weeks ago, a group of Orthodox Jews was pelted with eggs by teenagers from another town, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Authorities have arrested no one and have no motive in the beating of the rabbi, police Lt. Joseph Isnardi said.

There's a very, very strong feeling of revulsion and horror that this attack happened here, said Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, who belongs to the council of local Jewish leaders called the Vaad.

Witnesses told police they saw an African-American man walk by Moskowitz and without saying a word turn on the rabbi, beating him in the head and body with the baseball bat. Moskowitz remained in critical condition Thursday, his face disfigured.

Lakewood has seen large growth in its Orthodox Jewish and Hispanic communities, while the black population has shrunk, officials said.

"We have a very large population of Orthodox Jewish residents. And we get our share of spray painting, people riding down the road yelling epithets - all kinds of different things like that," Isnardi said.

Some Jewish residents said Thursday they feared the latest attack would exacerbate long-standing tensions between ethnic groups in the town.

Abraham Sasson, 15, was with a friend who quickly pulled out a flier critical of the police department's handling of safety. Sasson recounted how a woman at an area store had asked him the night before to walk her to her car only about 30 meters from the store.

"She was very scared to walk out by herself. That's part of the reaction of the township against the horrifying attack that took place two days ago," Sasson said.

As he pushed a stroller with his son down the street, 25-year-old Alexander Spira said residents were horrified by the attack. But he also noted there were places in the world that are less safe "People are going to Israel, where people are blowing up buses," Spira said.

and this text from WCBS-TV website (video report available on website):

Rabbi Beaten With Bat In Possible Bias Attack

Witness: Suspect started screaming, 'Jew! Jew! Jew!' Every time he hit him with the bat he banged and screamed 'Jew' again."

New Jersey rabbi on his way to synagogue was brutally beaten with a baseball bat just steps from his home and left a bloody mess on the ground, police say, and many believe he was targeted because of his religion.

Gauze and rubber gloves still litter the ground where 53-year-old Lakewood rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz was savagely attacked with an aluminum bat. His face and head were so badly damaged that the paramedic who responded was his own nephew and didn't even recognize him.

"You wouldn't recognize him. It doesn't look like him, like anything like he used to look," said another one of Moskowitz's nephews, Moshe Rotberg.

Rotberg spent all night at the hospital with his uncle, who had to be placed into a medicated coma because of his condition.

"This was totally instigated by somebody's either sickness or hate," said Rotberg.

Moskowitz was attacked under the darkness of night in the middle of Princeton Avenue near 12th Street in Lakewood. While he was being attacked, residents tell CBS 2 they heard his attacker yelling at him.

"He started screaming, 'Jew! Jew! Jew!' Every time he hit him with the bat he banged and screamed 'Jew' again," said a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous.

Lakewood police say they have no evidence that the attack was a hate or bias crime, but were able to find the baseball bat used and have a description of the attacker.

The suspect is being described as a black male, 30- to 40-years-old, clean shaven, wearing a dark plaid shirt and dark baggy pants. He is described as being approx. 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall. He was last seen running south on Princeton Avenue. Meanwhile, the principal at Lakewood Cheder School where Moskowitz teaches third grade says the children there are anxious for their favorite teacher to come back.

"They know that he was wounded, that he was in the hospital. I think most of them knew he was beaten. We're just hoping and praying for him that he should recover quickly," said Lakewood Cheder School Rabbi Yehuda Pirutinsky.

Moskowitz remains in critical condition at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

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