In October 2018, gunfire shattered the morning quiet in the Tree of Life synagogue. When the firing stopped, eleven people were dead
A few days later, a 62-year-old man, Lipa Schwartz, was viciously attacked on a Brooklyn street.
“I Feared For My Life”
Lipa Schwartz, 62, was on his way to his synagogue in mid-October when he was attacked on a Brooklyn street.
Schwartz was seen on surveillance video being beaten by Farrukh Afzal.
Don Hiking, the State Assemblyman who represented the district where the attack happened, called it “an absolute horror.”
“If a person watches the video, there are no words to describe it,” he said. “The scene reminded me of the worst moments in Nazi German.”
A witness to the attack said the Afzal, 37, “was screaming that he hates the Jews and wants to kill all the Jews.”
“I feared for my life,” said Schwartz. “I knew it’s either fight my way out or I might be dead.”
WABC Television called the attack a case of road rage.
Azfal was upset that Schwartz was moving too slowly as he crossed the intersection. The two men began yelling at each other and Schwartz hit the car. That’s when Azfal got out of his vehicle.
“He came out of the car and I can’t explain how angry he was,” said Schwartz. “He was screaming the entire time.”
A passerby who attempted to intervene, was chased off by Azfal who was later arrested and charged with assault and harassment.
Until recently, many Jews in America hoped the worst of anti-Semitism was over.
American Jews were welcome in colleges, clubs and corporate boardrooms which were once closed to their grandparents. They wed non-Jews, moved to mixed neighborhoods and in 2000, Joseph Lieberman, became the first Jew to run for Vice President on a major party ticket.
The massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue was a wake-up call.
“This type of evil reminds me of the Holocaust and how there is much evil in the world,” said Moshe Taube, 91, a cantor from Congregation Beth Shalom and a Holocaust survivor.
According to experts in anti-Semitism, the recently attack didn’t come out of nowhere. While Jews were finding unprecedented acceptance in America, a part of society was growing hostile.
The hostility intensified in the two years since Trump’s election and comes when attacks on Jews are on the rise.
The Anti-Defamation League cataloged a 57% increase in anti-Semitic occurrences in America over the previous year.
An ADL spokesman said before the Pennsylvania synagogue attack, the deadliest anti-Semitic incident, in recent American history, was in 1985.
David Morse Rice was found guilty in June 1986, for the Christmas Eve, 2085 murder of Charles Goldmark and his family. In a taped confession, Rice said he killed the family because he thought they were Jewish.
Deborah E. Lipstadt, an Emory University professor in Atlanta, said, “I’m not a Chicken Little who is yelling, ‘It’s worse than it’s ever been!’
“Now I think it’s worse than it’s ever been,” she added.
Arkady Bukh, a New York defense attorney compares anti-Semitism to an infection which hibernates and re-emerges during stress. It does not go away, no matter how “acculturated” Jews have become in America,