Josef Neumann, 72, who was critically injured in the Monsey machete attack during Hanukkah last December, has succumbed to his wounds.
Neumann was struck in the head several times with a machete by the attacker, with the weapon penetrating his skull. In February, he opened his eyes after being in a coma for 59 days.
"We were hoping when he started to open his eyes," said Rabbi Yisroel Kahan said to The Journal News on Sunday night. "We were hoping and praying he would then pull through. This is so very sad he was killed celebrating Hanukkah with friends just because he was a Jew."
Kahan tweeted of his passing, commenting "May his memory be a blessing."
With great sadness we mourn the passing of Josef Neuman at the age of 72, who succumbed to injuries sustained during the #MonseyStabbing while celebrating Chanukah on December 28th. May his memory be a blessing ️ pic.twitter.com/5Ui0Ph7uCG— Rabbi Yisroel Kahan (@ykahan) March 30, 2020
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Josef Neumann," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"This repugnant attack shook us to our core, demonstrating that we are not immune to the hate-fueled violence that we shamefully see elsewhere in the country," he added.
"The morning after that horrific night, I went to Rabbi Rottenberg's home and apologized on behalf of the family of New York and I promised him we would enact a first-in-the-nation law that calls this hate what it is: domestic terrorism."I am going to rename this legislation in honor of Mr. Neumann, and I am calling on the state legislature to pass it in the budget due April 1. We owe it to Mr. Neumann, his family and the entire family of New York to get it done now," Cuomo announced.
Not all of Neumann's family and friends may not be able to pay their respects due to social distancing regulations currently in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Kahan.
Neumann was one of five people injured in the attack and, despite suffering from poor health for months, he tried to fight off the assailant who carried out the attack. He lived in the lower level of the complex where the synagogue where the attack took place was located, according to Chabad.org.A close friend stated that Neumann never kept a penny for himself and would go through “a lot of effort to take care of ‘his families,’ people everyone else overlooked.” The money he collected benefited poor families in Israel.
Neumann surrounded himself with Torah learning and at Sabbath meals he would usually have six or seven religious texts on the table. His brother-in-law, Yisroel Kraus, described him as “everyone’s uncle.”
“He knew about everything and taught us little-known aspects of Torah, which are not widely taught in yeshivah (Jewish religious school),” said Kraus. “To us, he has always been someone special. He lived and breathed Hassidut, a glimpse into a past generation.”
Neumann leaves seven children, “many grandchildren,” a great-grandchild, and brothers and sisters.
Marcy Oster/JTA contributed to this report.