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SWFL Jewish community reacts to recent anti-semitic attacks in NY, country

Posted at 9:51 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 22:21:30-05

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — The man accused of storming a Hanukkah party in New York and stabbing five people is now facing hate crime charges in the case.

The NYPD says Grafton Thomas targeted the home of a rabbi Saturday night in Monsey, New York.

They claim the attack as anti-semitic in nature.

Fox 4's Rochelle Alleyne caught up with a man who was in the area during the time of the attack.

"They said that everybody should please lock their windows and close their doors because the one that was doing the stabbing was still on the loose," said Nochem Pinson.

Pinson says he then flew into Bonita Springs the next day, the celebrate the grand opening of the Chabad Jewish Center there.

"I said to myself 'Look at the contrast of this. I am coming from deep darkness, tragedy and I'm coming into the beautiful sunshine state. The sun is shining so brightly.'"

Thomas' attack is one of at least dozen anti-semitic incidents across New York state and the country over the last few weeks.

It comes a little over a year after a deadly mass shooting in a Pittsburgh, PA synagogue.

According to the FBI's 2018 hate crime statistics, 1550 of the hate crimes reported for the year were motivated by a religious bias. Of that number 57.8% of those crimes were "anti-Jewish."

Despite this revelation, Pinson says the Jewish community will continue to hope for a better tomorrow.

"The Jewish people have been going through this for thousands of years. It's probably in our DNA," said Pinson.

It's a trend that also isn't lost on the rabbi of the new center in Bonita Springs, who says they will continue to take precautions.

"We make sure to have security when we do our events. We're very much on top of that, we're in touch with the local law enforcement, the lee county sheriff," said Rabbi Mende Greenberg.