The children of the most seriously injured victim of the mass stabbing at an upstate New York Hanukkah celebration made an emotional appeal Thursday for an end to anti-Semitic attacks as their father underwent surgery.
Josef Neumann’s family agreed to release a graphic photo of their critically injured father, connected to a breathing tube, to show the brutality of the machete attack, said daughter Nicky Kohen.
Kohen and another one of Neumann’s seven children described him during a news conference as a caring and loving man who once owned a fish market in Rockland County.
“Please stand up and stop this hatred,” Kohen said. “It cannot keep going on. We want our kids to go to school and feel safe. We want to go to our synagogues and feel safe. We want to go to groceries and malls and feel safe.”
Neumann, who turned 72 on Monday, was one of five Orthodox Jewish people stabbed by an attacker two days earlier during a celebration in the hamlet of Monsey — about 40 miles northwest of New York City.
His family Wednesday released a photo of him lying unconscious in a hospital bed. He had been struck three times in the head and suffered a wound that penetrated “directly into the brain,” according to the family.
“This was a very difficult decision to us but we did release that photo because of the hundreds of messages that I personally have received asking, ‘Is your father okay yet? Is he awake? How’s he doing?'” Kohen said. “We started realizing people did not understand the severity of this attack.”
As she spoke to reporters, her father underwent surgery to implant breathing and feeding tubes, Kohen said.
“The doctors do not have high hopes for him,” she said, “If he wakes up, he may never be able to walk, talk or even process speech again.”
Authorities identified the suspect as Grafton Thomas, 37. He pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder Sunday. A day later, he was charged by federal agents with obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill — a federal hate crime. A judge ordered him to be detained.
Federal prosecutors said Thomas entered a rabbi’s home in Monsey on Saturday night and told the dozens of people there “no one is leaving.”
He attacked them with an 18-inch machete, with at least five victims suffering injuries ranging from slash wounds to a severed finger and a skull fracture, federal prosecutors said.