Rabbi assaulted in New York speaks out: ‘It was hate’

Assailant was “looking to kill,” says Rabbi Avraham Gopin, 63, calling his survival “a miracle from God.” Mayor Bill de Blasio vows to “stop at nothing” to find the attacker.

By Aaron Bandler, JNS

Avraham Gopin, the 63-year-old New York rabbi who was brutally assaulted in Brooklyn on Tuesday, told CBS New York on Wednesday that the attack was clearly motivated by “hate.”

The assault took place at Lincoln Terrace Park in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, said Gopin. The assailant threw a brick at his face and then jumped on him, punching him “20, 25, 30 times.” Gopin fought back and eventually the assailant fled.

“It was hate,” said Gopin. “He said ‘Jew, Jew.’ He said something in that direction … he was for certain looking to kill. No doubt about [that].”

That he survived the attack was a “miracle from God,” he said, adding that he still plans to visit the park with his family.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on Tuesday that “The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating this despicable act of violence, and we will find the attacker. This city will stop at nothing to protect our communities from hate and violence.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that Gopin’s assault is “the latest in a really disturbing pattern of violence & harassment directed at Jews in Brooklyn. We need action before more people get hurt.”

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The New York Police Department (NYPD) has recorded 145 complaints of anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2019; there were 88 such complaints in 2018, according to CBS New York. The NYPD has recorded 19 official anti-Semitic hate crimes so far in 2019; the NYPD recorded 33 the year prior.

Forward editor Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt wrote in an op-ed published on Wednesday that the city hasn’t taken “any real action” outside of “tweets and press releases” to stop the ongoing hate crimes against Jews.

“Is it because they do not see Orthodox Jews as real Americans, as citizens deserving of the right to live safely in their communities?” Chizik-Goldschmidt wrote. “Are we too ‘other,’ too ‘apart,’ ‘disloyal,’ to earn the privilege of peaceful existence? Is it because we are politically inconvenient? If the perpetrator wasn’t a white supremacist who voted for [President Donald] Trump, then it didn’t really happen, did it?”

Chizik-Goldschmidt added that it’s time to “put political affiliations aside and focus on the fact that in broad daylight, innocent Orthodox Jews are getting attacked—while politicians sit idly by. Our secular brethren may walk in the street and have the luxury of blending into the crowd as anonymous New Yorkers, but we wear our identities on our sleeves. And this puts us at the very front lines of anti-Semitism in the United States today.”

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This article first appeared in the Jewish Journal.