In the aftermath of the attempted kidnapping and stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski at the Shaloh House in Brighton on July 1, expressions of support poured in from leaders of the Jewish community and elsewhere.
In addition to the statements and tweets of support, and a July 2 vigil attended by hundreds at Brighton Common – the park where the attack took place – there were calls to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
“Facts emerging from the stabbing of a Rabbi in Brighton, MA yesterday include multiple indictors pointing towards antisemitism. We call on the Boston Police Department Civil Rights Unit to investigate yesterday’s violent attack as a hate crime,” said Robert Trestan, regional director of ADL New England in a statement on Twitter, days before hate crime charges were brought against the suspect last week.
“We stand with the Jewish community in the wake of yesterday’s violent attack in Brighton,” Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins tweeted shortly after the attack. Rollins’ office subsequently brought two hate crime charges against the suspect, Khaled Awad, 24, of Brighton last week.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Rabbi Noginski,” said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad of the North Shore. “I have been in contact with [Shaloh House Director] Rabbi [Dan] Rodkin and am following these developments closely. All of our North Shore Chabad centers are continuing to adhere to our very thorough existing security protocols, as well as constantly upgrading wherever and however we can.
“At the same time,” Lipsker said, “we remain resolute and deeply committed to expanding our presence on the North Shore and broadening the scope and reach of our community programming. We will not be cowed by cowardice and hatred. To the contrary. Each of these events motivates us to double down and intensify our efforts.”
Chabad of Peabody Director Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman said in an interview a friend told him he planned to leave his hat and beard at home, but Schusterman said one should not hide one’s Jewishness.
“It bothered me that it was his gut reaction, [but] I don’t blame him,” Schusterman said. Nevertheless, Jews are not going to get someone who hates them to hate them less by trying to look less Jewish, he added.
“You are not going to be gentile enough for the gentile,” said Schusterman, who said he does not have answers as to why people are the way they are.
“The notion that if I hide my Jewishness that will keep me safe, that is false,” the rabbi said.
As to whether the attack on Rabbi Noginski was a hate crime, Schusterman said while the suspect’s name leads him to draw certain conclusions, he was “willing to respect the process” to see how it plays out.
Schusterman said he does not know Rabbi Noginski personally, but he does know Rodkin well. It’s a shul he prays in from time to time, and while his kids were not in camp there this summer, they have been there for the past 10 years.
“The attack on Rabbi Shlomo is truly an attack against all Jews, and all people of faith and integrity,” said Rabbi David Meyer of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead. The congregation planned to recite a healing prayer for the rabbi during its first in-person Friday evening service since the pandemic began. “We will continue to support law enforcement in their pursuit of bringing justice to the perpetrator. We thank our community partners for reaching out in support,” Meyer said.
“We were shocked and saddened to hear about the stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski outside of a Jewish day school in Brighton, Massachusetts Thursday afternoon,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in a statement. Ruderman said the incident was “part of a deeply troubling trend of hatred against Jews. As of late, antisemitism has reached historic levels in the United States, where Americans are now unfortunately seeing these types of attacks occur far too often. We wish the Rabbi a speedy recovery, and hope that the U.S. and Israeli authorities take notice and understand that antisemitism must be eradicated before it becomes the norm.”
“We are still reeling and heartbroken for Rabbi Noginksi and the Boston Jewish Community,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a tweet. “While we wait on more details, we know one thing to be fact: antisemitism is on the rise at an alarming rate in this country and immediate action is needed to combat this dangerous trend.”
“My thoughts are with Rabbi Noginski, his loved ones, and the Shaloh House community right now,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on July 2. “While we await further details, we all are praying for his recovery. Antisemitism has no place in Massachusetts or anywhere else.”
“Keeping Rabbi Shlomo Noginski, the Shaloh House community, and everyone affected by this terrible attack close in our hearts today,” U.S. Sen. Ed Markey tweeted. “Violence, hatred, and anti-Semitism have no place in the Commonwealth, and we must do everything we can to ensure Massachusetts is always a welcoming and safe place for every person, no matter their background or beliefs.”
“Rabbi Noginski and his family are in my prayers tonight,” U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Boston said on Twitter. “While we await further details & pray for his recovery, let me say plainly that all of our neighbors deserve to live free from fear. Antisemitism is a clear and persistent threat to our communities.”
Newton Democrat U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss, a Jewish member of Congress, attended the rainy vigil. “We support Rabbi Noginski and we stand against antisemitism. This Fourth of July, I am reflecting on Jews as partners in justice in our country’s history, and committing that they – as all Americans – must be secure in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he tweeted.
The Rev. Andre Bennett, president of the Essex County Community Organization and minister for youth and young adults at Zion Baptist Church in Lynn said in a statement: “As president of ECCO and on behalf of our board and staff, I speak loudly and clearly to our Jewish siblings to say: We are with you. We are here for you and are ready to support you in prayer and in action.”
“Please join me in lifting up Rabbi Noginski in prayer this morning and wish him a speedy recovery,” tweeted Boston’s Acting Mayor Kim Janey. “An attack on any member of our community is an attack on all of us in the City of Boston. We must work together to eliminate violence and fear in our communities.”
“My thoughts tonight are with Rabbi Shlomo Noginski & I wish him a swift & full recovery,” tweeted Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George. “As we learn more information about today’s incident, let us recommit ourselves to making sure everyone feels safe & welcomed in Boston.”
“I stand in solidarity with Rabbi Shlomo Noginski, who was senselessly attacked yesterday,” tweeted Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty. “Thank you the organizers of this morning’s vigil for providing the community a place to gather and process together.”
“The hateful attack on Rabbi Noginski is horrific and has no place in our Commonwealth or our country. I’m praying for his full recovery,” said 3rd District U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, whose district includes the Merrimack Valley. “This is the latest in a long, despicable series of escalating anti-Semitic violence. We all have a role in ending that.”