CAMDEN, N.J. — Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young says he is “sickened and heartbroken” by the events leading up to the attack on Jewish congregants observing Hanukkah at the home of their Rabbi.
“Over the past several weeks, we have had to witness one hate-fueled attack after another, leading most recently to this weekend’s attack in Monsey, New York,” Young said in a prepared statement. “These incidents have left me sickened and heartbroken. On behalf of every member of the Freeholder Board, I want to once again reiterate that we stand with the Jewish community, and I want everyone to rest assured that our law enforcement officers and first responders are committed to keeping our community safe in light of these horrific events.”
On December 28, 2019, Grafton Thomas, 37, entered a Rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, during observances related to the end of Shabbat and the seventh night of Hanukkah. Thomas declared to dozens of assembled congregants, “no one is leaving,” and attacked the group with an 18-inch machete leading to the hospitalization of five victims with serious injuries, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.
“Thomas has been charged with five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill, a federal hate crime, related to his machete attack,” the press release stated.
Young assures residents that officials are on heightened alert.
“The Camden County Department of Public Safety is maintaining an active dialogue with law enforcement, clergy, and residents to ensure that places of worship are protected and remain safe havens for all who seek them,” Young said. “Our law enforcement partners have communicated to us that heightened attention is being paid to places with religious affiliations and we will continue to be in constant contact with them indefinitely.”
While there are no credible threats in the Camden County area, Young wants residents to remain watchful.
“I want to stress that there is no reason for panic, nor are we aware of any credible threats against our community, and that all of these measures are purely out of an abundance of caution,” Young said. “That said, we want to continue to remind everyone that if they see something suspicious, they should immediately report that activity to local law enforcement.”
Young sees the recent resurgence of hatred and bigotry as something many preferred to believe was only a relic of the past.
“The truth is that we are living in a tumultuous moment of critical importance,” Young said. “If you have not already, now is the time to speak with your children about the significance of their words and actions, about the impact of bias and prejudice on their friends and neighbors, and why they must stand alongside their fellow members of the community as an ally.”
Diversity makes the community stronger, Young explains, and fear of those who are different than others only weakens it.
“There is no place for hate in our community, and it has no home in Camden County,” Young said. “Moving forward, we will continue to work with our partners in the community to make sure that all appropriate resources are available for those who need them.”
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