Thursday, May 26, 2011

Resident's Rejection of Hasidic Synagogue Leads To Arson Attack

The Lower Hudson Valley Journal News yesterday reported that in New Square, New York (a town populated primarily by members of the Jewish Skverer Hasidic movement) 18-year old Shaul Spitzer has been charged with attempted murder, attempted arson and assault on 43-year old Aron Rottenberg in an incident allegedly growing out of a religious dispute.  Grand Rabbi David Twersky has apparently decreed that all of his followers must worship at his synagogue. However, Rottenberg along with two dozen other New Square residents, has been boycotting Twersky's synagogue and instead worshiping a mile away at the Friedwald Center. This led to months of protests outside Rottenberg's house last fall.  An attorney hired by Rottenberg's family charges that the attack by Spitzer-- who works in Twersky's house and is the cousin of the town's mayor--"culminated months of increasingly violent and coordinated religiously biased attacks on Mr. Rottenberg triggered by the victim's choice of synagogue and religious leader." The arson attack, which consisted of throwing gasoline-soaked rags onto the rear deck of Rottenberg's house at 4 a.m. last Sunday, inflicted third degree burns over 50% of Rottenberg's body.