BRIGHTON – Last week, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins visited the home of the rabbi who was attacked and repeatedly stabbed in broad daylight outside the Shaloh House Jewish Day School on July 1.
The suspect now faces a series of assault and battery and hate-crime charges in connection with the attack and a dangerousness hearing on July 29.
Rollins, who was nominated Monday by President Joe Biden to be U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, reiterated her support for the Jewish community during her July 21 visit to Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shlomo Noginski’s home.
“We are sorry this happened,” said Rollins. “We are taking this incident incredibly seriously, and just to speak to him as a person and let him know that we are going to fight to make sure that this individual is held accountable; and that we want the Jewish community to know that we are aware that antisemitism exists, and that we are going to hold people accountable when they engage in hate – which is what I believe happened here.”
On July 8, a judge ordered the suspect, Khaled A. Awad, 24, of Brighton, held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing and a 20-day criminal responsibility evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital.
In the attack, police say Noginski was confronted by Awad outside the Jewish day school and camp on Chestnut Hill Avenue. At gunpoint, the rabbi was nearly forced inside his minivan, before he fled across the street to a park.
In trying to fend him off, Noginski, who has a background in martial arts, was stabbed eight times in the arm, shoulder and ribs. Noginski believes his attacker was motivated by hate. When the commotion caught the attention of others, Noginski was able to flee inside the Shaloh House. Awad was later arrested by police.
When asked how he was feeling, the rabbi, a native of the former Soviet Union who formerly lived in Israel, answered in Hebrew, with Shaloh House Director Rabbi Dan Rodkin translating.
“Baruch Hashem (Thank God),” the rabbi responded.
“He said, ‘Thank God’ he’s feeling better and is slowly recovering from the attack” said Rodkin.
When Rollins was asked if Awad might face more serious charges in Superior Court, she said, “We have, I believe right now, nine charges that are pending, seven of which are felonies, two are misdemeanors, and as you know, in our system, most of our serious felonies are indicted up to Superior Court, but we have charged this individual we believe with some serious felonies and are going to continue our investigation to see if there is anything additionally that we will add.”
Days after the initial court hearing, prosecutors added two hate crime charges in addition to those in connection to the July 1 attack.
During the earlier hearing in which civil rights charges were brought, prosecutors outlined what detectives learned about Awad, a native of Egypt who had been a student living in Florida before coming to Massachusetts in February. Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Margaret Hegarty said in court investigators learned from those who knew Awad he was particularly intolerant and harsh when it came to his opinion of Jews. It was reported Awad was seen acting suspiciously near the Shaloh House the day before the attack.
Rollins said she was taking her cue from the community as to how to proceed.
“But, we also need to respect the Jewish community and find out what their needs are regarding the trauma and making sure we are informed and respectful of their faith and how we just don’t insert ourselves and this is part of my learning process,” she said.
When asked how the rabbi was doing, Rodkin said, Noginski was going to the doctor, taking medications and feeling better. “And he completely trusts our legal system, he’s very thankful to the American court system,” Rodkin said.
Rodkin said Noginski was “very thankful to the community,” for its prayers and support, including letters and good wishes from neighbors, and the local, national and international community.
Rollins said she felt humbled to be in Noginski’s presence.
“He’s alive, he’s one of the most interesting people and resilient men I have had the pleasure of meeting,” Rollins said. “I think we have a lot to learn from this man and this beautiful religion of just having faith and not fearing evil.”
Noginski said it was very important that when we see darkness and evil, the best response is to display more kindness to balance the world. When asked if he was able to process the attack, Noginski said through Rodkin: “My faith and trust in God helps me to be strong.”
“We pledge that for each of 8 wounds Rabbi Shlomo Noginski’s body suffered, we will bring in 8 new young students. We will take them through complete Rabbinical training so that 8 new Rabbis will continue what Rabbi Shlomo Noginski has started,” said the information about the campaign. “This is our resolute response to darkness and hate. We confront it with light, love, and peace.”
A fundraiser has been set up in Noginski’s name on the website of the Shaloh House, seeking to raise $500,000 to help Noginski with his dream of opening a Jewish Educational Center in Brighton as a response to the attack. A sponsor is matching all donations up to $500,000 with the goal of purchasing a building to serve as the center.
As of this week, nearly $122,000 had been raised.