Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Square letter: Spitzer sought mischief, not murder, in Rottenberg attack 

A community group has circulated a letter claiming Shaul Spitzer just wanted to make mischief on the early May morning that he's accused of trying to kill a dissident resident and burn down the man's house with his family inside.

Spitzer, 18, is charged with trying to kill Aron Rottenberg, 43, who defied Skver Grand Rebbe David Twersky by not praying at the rabbi's synagogue in the village.

Before the attack, Rottenberg had been targeted for several months with protests and vandalism from community members for praying with patients at the Friedwald house on New Hempstead Road.

Rottenberg's daughter was evicted from school and his plumbing business boycotted. Those with Rottenberg also were targeted with vandalism, to a lesser degree, and forced out of New Square.

Three board members of the New Square Kehila issued a "special letter for Skver followers and friends." The Kehila deals with charity and other communal affairs.

The letter-writers state that after gathering the facts, "the most important thing we have learned is that the teenage boy did not intend to harm anyone."

They argue that the incendiary device went off when Rottenberg went after Spitzer, who is accused of tossing one device on the back porch.

"He never wanted to burn a house with five people inside," the letter says. "His design was mischief on Lag Be'omer night, not arson."

The Lag Be'omer holiday involves lighting bonfires to honor the teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who is linked to a Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire. In Israel, the holiday is celebrated as a symbol of the fighting Jewish spirit.

The letter condemns violence, says Rottenberg was unjustly attacked, calls for community peace and says "disagreements in a community have to be solved by adults with reason, not by teenage boys with mischief."

The letter staunchly defends Twersky and the New Square Hasidic Jewish community against criticism and ridicule. Twersky is the dynastic leader of the worldwide Skver Hasidic who sets the rules and lifestyle for his followers.


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