Clarkstown police said that the incidents took place in New City, approximately 7 miles northeast of Monsey, at approximately 10:45 PM last night.
A resident at the home of Rabbi Avremel Kotlarsky, located at the corner of Tarry Hill Road and Phillips Hill Road, heard a loud noise coming from the east side of the family’s property and looking outside, saw four unidentified white males, possibly teenagers, heading westward. As the group was fleeing, one member turned around and threw an incendiary device at a tree located in front of the Kotlarsky home. The tree caught fire and was later extinguished by the New City Fire Department.
Police who were investigating the attack were informed that a similar incident had taken place next door at the home of Rabbi Simcha Morgenstern, located east of the Kotlarsky residence on Phillips Hill Road.
Several people were at the home when they heard an explosion coming from the driveway and discovered a firework that had been thrown between three parked cars in the driveway. None of the cars sustained any damage and no one observed any of the perpetrators involved. During the course of their investigation, police recovered a fragment and a partial label of the exploded firework.
Both Rabbi Kotlarsky and Rabbi Morgenstern are affiliated with Chabad Lubavitch of New City, based out of the Hebrew Academy which is adjacent to both properties. Clarkstown police have been canvassing the neighborhood looking for eyewitnesses and home surveillance footage that can help them identify the perpetrators.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day called on the Clarkstown Police Department to investigate the incident aggressively to determine if it was an actual hate crime.
“There is no place in our community for hate,” said Day. “We condemn this apparent hate crime in the strongest terms possible.”
Penny Jennings, Rockland County’s commissioner of human rights, said that she will arrange a meeting of the county’s Interfaith Council with a goal of fostering better relationships between the many diverse groups that live in the area.
Alden Wolfe, chaiman of the Rockland County Legislature, acknowledged a culture of anti-Semitism in the county.
“Legitimate policy issues are continually being mixed in with anti-Semitic rhetoric,” said Wolfe. “I’ve been saying for months that such words eventually turn into hateful, violent actions.”
Wolfe took local politicians to task, both for their own divisive words, as well as their lethargic attitude towards the anti-Semitic actions of others.
“Elected officials should examine their own behaviors and take the appropriate steps to squash the use of hateful language and to quell any hateful and potentially deadly behavior,” said Wolfe.