Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Square rabbi condemns violence; burn victim's family seeks federal probe 

Grand Rebbe David Twersky publicly denounced violence and said he's praying for Aron Rottenberg's recovery from Sunday's near-fatal arson attack in his community, but the victim's family on Friday rejected the overture and blamed the rabbi for inciting the attack by a teenage assistant who slept in his home.

The family said in a statement that the Skver Hasidim's rabbi "gave the clear signals to continue with this terror against any non-believers of him. As this attacker came directly from his own inner circle, the rabbi's personal butler, who personally knows best of the rabbi's will and desires firsthand."

Twersky on Thursday issued his first public response to a group of students. Transcripts of the speech were widely circulated on the Internet.

"The use of force and violence to make a point or settle an argument violates Skver's most fundamental principles," the rabbi said.

Shaul Spitzer, 18, is charged with attempted murder in the attack that left Rottenberg with third -degree burns across 50 percent of his body. The teen, who is also hospitalized with third-degree burns to his hands, is accused of trying to set the family's Truman Avenue house on fire.

On Friday, Rottenberg's lawyer wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for a federal investigation of the "religiously motivated" hate crime.

"This horrific act, evocative of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany, culminated months of bigotry, harassment and violence toward the Rottenberg family directed by the village's religious leadership headed by Grand Rebbe David Twersky," lawyer Michael Sussman of Orange County wrote.

Detective Lt. Mark Emma of the Ramapo police said that "there may be federal crimes involved" and that his department would not rule out assistance from the U.S. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifAttorney's Office and the FBI.

Until Thursday, Twersky had been publicly silent on the attack, though the community's religious court had condemned it. Unsigned notices of sympathy also had been posted in the community's synagogue.


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