On Tuesday morning, an unknown attacker hit 63-year-old Rabbi Abraham Gopin with a paving stone while he was jogging near a park in Crown Heights, a neighborhood that’s home to many religious Jews in New York.
“When he saw me, he jumped towards me … shutting rocks with full force towards my head,” Gopin told CBS-2 News. “Then, he jumped on me and start to fight with me, trying to knock me in the face — probably, I would say, 20, 25, 30 times with his fists, and I was protecting myself.”
“He said Jew, Jew. He said something in that direction,” Gopin continued. “He was for certain looking to kill. No doubt about it.”
The assailant broke Gopin’s nose and knocked multiple teeth out. Gopin’s son-in-law tweeted photos of the bloody aftermath, as well as a description of the attack.
The NYPD released a video of the man they said was a suspect.
The attack on Gopin is not an isolated incident. In June, the New York Police Department released data showing that the number of hate crimes by that point in the year had risen dramatically compared to 2018, and that most of those incidents were anti-Semitic in nature. The number of hate crimes against people — which encompasses violent incidents — leapt from 18 in 2017, to 33 in 2018, to 19 in the first half of this year. And it’s likely that some incidents are not being reported to authorities.
Orthodox Jews, wearing the religious garb that would identify them as such, have been punched and spit on in Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Borough Park, all enclaves for Orthodox Jews.
Earlier this month, attackers punched three Jewish men in the face as part of an attempted robbery in the Hasidic section of Williamsburg; two men have been arrested.
In June, Tablet, a Jewish-focused publication, began a story exploring the disturbing trend by noting that “the incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, familiar drumbeat of violence and hate targeting visibly Jewish people in New York City.”
The incidents have not appeared to be connected to each other beyond the identity of the victims, and it is unclear what role, if any, the charged national political climate has played. But the Anti-Defamation League recorded a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults in 2018 compared to 2017 — including the deadly synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, California.
Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed on Tuesday to find Gopin’s assailant.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League offered a $5,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the capture of Abraham Gopin’s attacker.