New York state legislators have approved legislation to combat antisemitism, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo naming the bill after Rabbi Josef Neumann, 72, who was stabbed at a synagogue in Monsey during Hanukkah and died of his wounds last Sunday.
The legislation classifies any assault of a group based on its race or religion as a terror attack.
The bill also allocated $25 million to vulnerable religious nonprofit organizations and $2 million to support the state police’s hate crime task force.
According to the Jewish Insider, it also creates a statewide education curriculum on diversity and tolerance for students.
The bill was originally called “No Hate in Our State Act,” but Cuomo said that it would be renamed the “Josef Neumann Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act,” in order to reclassify certain hate crimes so that their punishment will now be a life sentence and without the possibility of parole.
“We owe it to Mr. Neumann, his family, and the entire family of New York to get it done now,” Cuomo said.
Grafton Thomas, 37, broke into the home and synagogue of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey and stabbed five people. The other four have been discharged from the hospital.
Federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges against Thomas on Monday. FBI agent Julie Brown reported that Thomas kept journals containing antisemitic statements and Nazi references. Additionally, she said that his cell phone was used to search “Why did Hitler hate the Jews?” on four separate occasions.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder released a statement following the passage of the new bill. “I commend the State Legislature on passing the Josef Neumann Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act,” he wrote.
“I am profoundly grateful to Governor Cuomo for his unwavering leadership and commitment to this cause. The new legislation sends a clear message: Attacking someone based on race, religion, or creed is domestic terrorism, nothing less. New York has taken a big step toward safeguarding the Jewish community, and I plan on approaching other governors and state legislators to follow Governor Cuomo’s lead.”