The Shmooze

Father of Four Switches Synagogues, Gets Burned in Arson Attempt

By Michael Kaminer

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Some Jews talk about getting burned by synagogue memberships. But Aron Rottenberg wouldn’t be exaggerating. The Orthodox Jewish father of four is hospitalized with third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body after another Orthodox Jew allegedly tried to torch his house — all because Rottenberg started taking his family to a different synagogue, Gothamist reports.

Six months ago, according to Gothamist, the family’s car windows were smashed; earlier this month, the same happened to the windows of their house in the village of New Square. “Doing your own thing, that is not something they can take,” son-in-law Moshe Elbaum told CBS2News. “They don’t like that, because it’s showing people can do what they want to do.” For security, the family installed surveillance cameras, which is how Rottenberg discovered 18-year-old Shaul Spitzer allegedly pouring flammable liquid around his house on Sunday morning.

After Rottenberg confronted Spitzer, the gas ignited, according to ABCNews, with flames consuming both men.

When police arrived, they found 43-year-old Rottenberg on his front porch with serious burns to his upper body. Both men have been hospitalized.

For Gothamist, the incident represented a new kind of “Hasid-on-Hasid” gangsta-style violence. “Here in NYC, when Hasidim attack, the violence is usually reduced to running goy cyclists off the road or fisticuffs over Satmar schisms. But up in Rockland County, it’s all HDP (Hasids Don’t Play).”

A former Rockland County resident named Katie Sokoler tells Gothamist she was surprised by the news, saying, “I remember the good old days when they used to just stone you for doing something wrong.”


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