NY rabbi punched, kicked by man making antisemitic remarks

The attacker said "what are you looking at?" before punching him in the head and face and saying "the Nazis should have killed you Jews" before fleeing.

NYPD vehicle370 (photo credit: Reuters)
NYPD vehicle370
(photo credit: Reuters)

A rabbi was assaulted by a perpetrator who made antisemitic remarks throughout the attack in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, WABC reported on Friday.

The victim was hospitalized in stable condition and authorities are searching for the attacker, Bronx-based media channel News12 reported.

The victim, aged 32, was reportedly approached by the attacker without provocation. The attacker said "what are you looking at?" before punching him in the head and face and saying "the Nazis should have killed you Jews" before fleeing, according to independent Orthodox Jewish news outlet COLive.

The victim was taken to the hospital by local Hatzalah personnel.

The fact that this attack took place so openly and in broad daylight is worrying, Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of Crown Heights Jewish Community Council (CHJCC) explained to COLive, adding: “It is important that we find this individual right away and get him off the streets.” 

To that effect, the NYPD announced that they were looking for the suspect, sharing images and videos on social media, and offering rewards up to $3,500.

US Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is Jewish and co-chairs the House Republican Israel Caucus, identified the victim as Rabbi Yehoshua Lefkowitz, a rabbinic intern at the Great Neck Synagogue in Great Neck, Long Island, and shared a statement over social media by the synagogue's rabbi, Rabbi Dale Polakoff.

Zeldin, who represents New York's 1st Congressional District, which is also located on Long Island, said in a statement that the attack is part of an alarming trend of antisemitism:

“Last week, a report was released showing New York leading the nation in antisemitic incidents, and today’s violent attack on Rabbi Lefkowitz is the latest in a disturbing and unacceptable trend of anti-Jewish hate and violence that is spreading throughout our communities, nation and the world,” Zeldin said.

“Instead of observing Shabbat at Great Neck Synagogue, Rabbi Lefkowitz was sent to the hospital beaten and bruised,” he added.

“Practicing the Jewish faith should not be a life-threatening endeavor anywhere in the world, but especially not in the United States, where we cherish religious freedom. New York City’s streets and subways are filled right now with violence, hate and lawlessness. Many elected officials empower it, and the justice system remains handcuffed. This has to end now! Our hearts are with Rabbi Lefkowitz tonight, and we pray for his full and speedy recovery.”