Rabbi stabbed in Monsey synagogue attack dies in rehab center

Synagogue Stabbing
Orthodox Jewish talk to stand on Forshay Road in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, down the street from the scene of a stabbing that occurred late Saturday during a Hanukkah celebration. A man attacked at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late Saturday, stabbing and wounding several people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said. (AP Photo/Allyse Pulliam)

Rabbi Josef Neumann, who suffered a fractured skull and was on a respirator in a New Jersey rehab center after an anti-Semitic machete attack on a Monsey, NY synagogue last December, died Sunday night.

Neumann, 72, had been hospitalized in the Friedwald Rehab Center in Lakewood, New Jersey after suffering massive head injuries in the Dec. 28, 2019 attack. The exact cause of death has not yet been released.

Rabbi Josef Neumann

Isaac Abraham, a close family friend, told amNewYork Metro that the family informed him of Neumann’s passing, at about 9 p.m. Sunday. Other independent sources say the family confirmed the death.

“We grew up together on same street, he an his three brothers and three sisters born and raised in Williamsburg, on Keap Street,” said Abraham Sunday night. “Every Friday, I would remind people to pray for him. Now, the charges will be murder.”

The Dec. 28, 2019 attack capped several months of anti-Semitic incidents in the New York City area, including the Dec. 10, 2019 mass shooting on a Jewish grocery store in Jersey City.

The attack on the Monsey synagogue belonging to Rabbi Rottenberg, spurred legislation backed by the governor that will roll back criminal justice reform to exclude anti-Semitic attacks from the bail reform laws. Judges would have more discretion to jail offenders under the proposed changes. Bail reform advocates oppose any changes in the reforms.

Grafton Thomas, the man accused in the stabbing, was charged with multiple counts of assault as a hate crime in the attack. Detectives found anti-Semitic writings in Thomas’s journals and press clippings of Jews and Nazis on his cell phone, his federal indictment charged. His attorneys say he should be considered, “mentally incompetent for trial.”

Grafton Thomas is led from Ramapo Town Hall in Ramapo, N.Y. following his arraignment Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. Thomas was charged in the stabbings of multiple people as they gathered to celebrate Hanukkah at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. (Seth Harrison/The Journal News via AP)

Thomas was nabbed after driving into Manhattan and was spotted by cops on the upper west side. The detectives who led to the arrest were honored by NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

Normally, a large funeral is held for rabbis, but it was not known whether this was going to be permitted under the current state coronavirus rules against congregating in groups more than 10 people. Under Jewish law, the rabbi must be buried within 24 hours.