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World Photos of the Day

16:08  30 march  2020
16:08  30 march  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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RAMAPO — A 72-year-old man died Sunday night of severe injuries from being hacked and stabbed by a man wielding a machete against Hasidic Jewish men celebrating Hanukkah in late December at a rabbi's house on Forshay Road.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Josef Neumann, 71, was stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, N.Y. on Dec. 28, 2019 © Photo courtesy of the Neumann family Josef Neumann, 71, was stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, N.Y. on Dec. 28, 2019

Josef Neumann died in a Rockland County nursing home from the injuries suffered Dec. 28. He will likely be buried Monday, Rabbi Yisroel Kahan said.

Family members and the community held out hope Neumann might recover after he showed signs of emerging from a coma of 59 days in February. He had been on life support and had undergone several operations for severe head and body wounds.

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"We were hoping when he started to open his eyes," Kahan said Sunday night. "We were hoping and praying he would then pull through. This is so very sad he was killed celebrating Hanukkah with friends just because he was a Jew."

Neumann's funeral and burial will likely draw many mourners, though with the prohibitions on gathering and health guidelines due to the coronavirus outbreak precautions would be needed.

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Kahan said the possibility exists that not all of Neumann's many friends and family "will be able to pay their respects as he deserves."

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"With the situation we have now, the guidelines are so tight," Kahan said.

Usually, the Ramapo police and Sheriff's Office get involved with crowd and traffic control when there's a large funeral procession. Under Orthodox Jewish tradition, the burial is within 24 hours of death and the plain casket is carried to the cemetery.

Neumann, a great-grandfather who marked his 72nd birthday while in a coma on life support, was one of six people sent to the hospital when Grafton Thomas, who is accused of bursting into a Hanukkah party at the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, used a machete to attack.

Thomas, 38, of Greenwood Lake, was arrested in Manhattan within hours by two NYPD officers who had been alerted to be on the lookout for a Nissan Sentra. Partygoer Josef Gluck had noted the license plate of the attacker and alerted police.

When Thomas was stopped, police said he was covered in blood and the machete was found in his car. A knife also was found in the car.

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Thomas remains a suspect in the predawn attack and stabbing of a rabbi walking to synagogue on Howard Drive on Nov. 20. Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel has said so far there was no evidence to charge Thomas in the November stabbing, but the police and FBI were investigating.

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Thomas has pleaded not guilty to a 10-count federal indictment accusing him of injuring the five victims while trying to kill them because of their religion and obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill them.

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A Rockland grand jury has indicted Thomas on 14 separate charges, including six attempted murder counts. Neumann's death will likely lead the Rockland District Attorney's Office to seek a murder count.

Thomas' family and attorney has said he suffers from mental illness and is not anti-Semitic. He's been examined by several psychologists with an additional examination planned.

A Rockland judge has yet to rule on whether Thomas is fit for trial and is able to understand the charges and assist in his own defense. An exam done by a defense expert found him incompetent but two experts who examined him for Rockland prosecutors found him competent.

Thomas' 45-day evaluation for the federal government has not been scheduled and he has not yet been transferred to an upstate psychiatric facility. He's being held under federal custody in Westchester without bail, and on $5 million bail by a Ramapo justice on the state charges.

Based on a court warrant approved after the December attack, the FBI searched Thomas' home and his cellular telephone, finding references to Jews, Hitler, the Nazi culture, as well as packaging for an 18-inch machete, according to the complaint signed by FBI Special Agent Julie Brown.

The hand-written journal also referenced the Black Hebrew Israelites — the extremist group linked to one of the shooters in the fatal attack on a kosher grocery store earlier this month in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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His cellphone's internet browser included November and December searches for topics such as "Why did Hitler hate the Jews," "German Jewish Temples near me," "Zionist Temples in Elizabeth, NJ," "Zionist Temples of Staten Island," and "Prominent companies founded by Jews in America," according to the complaint.

Why he chose the rabbi's home remains under investigation.

Twitter: @lohudlegal

Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police and investigations. Reach him at slieberm@lohud.com. Twitter: @lohudlegal. Read more articles and bio. Our local coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Josef Neumann, 72, dies from injuries suffered in Monsey Hanukkah machete attack

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