Williamsburg’s chasidic volunteer patrol has increased its presence in an industrial area near the spot where a 26-year-old yeshiva teacher was seriously injured in a Thanksgiving night beating. Police are investigating the attack as a possible bias crime.
Joseph Weinberger was returning home from his job at Yeshiva Beer Torah at about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday when three thugs pounced on him on Wallabout Street. He told cops that he offered the assailants his wallet but that didn’t stop them from ripping his tzitzit and other clothing and breaking his jaw and leg in a series of blows during which he lost consciousness several times. His cell phone was stolen in the attack.
“That the attackers apparently targeted a visibly Jewish person after he exited a Yeshiva suggests that they were motivated by bias,” said Ron Meier, New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Anti-Semitism has no place in our community, and we look forward to seeing those responsible apprehended and charged with hate crimes.”
Councilman Steve Levin of Williamsburg said he had been in regular contact with police since the incident.
“The public has made quite an uproar over his,” Levin said on Tuesday evening. “People are demanding answers. I’ve been on the phone with the police all day yesterday and today, but we’re still waiting for some good news in terms of leads.”
Getting from the yeshiva, where Weinberger teaches high school kids, to the surrounding residential area requires travel through a secluded area of Wallabout Street where there are commercial buildings and few homes.
“We are adding more volunteers and we have been in that area all the time since the incident,” said Yanky Itzkowitz, coordinator of the Williamsburg Shomrim Patrol, which has about 80 volunteers. “We are working very hard with police to catch the perpetrators. If anyone has any information we are asking the community to call us or the police.”
Isaac Abraham, an activist in the community who knows Weinberger’s family, said the victim was recuperating at home after being released from Beekman Downtown hospital. He said that in addition to his jaw being wired shut, Weinberger has numerous fractured bones in his face. Weinberger said the NYPD should increase its undercover operations to help root out criminal activity. “They had this 20 years ago, but now they went in a different direction,” said Abraham. “It’s the same as catching turnstile jumpers [on the subway]. You find out you were looking for them from a previous crime, a bigger crime, or when you take them off the street you prevent them from committing a bigger crime.”
In August a chasidic man, Baruch Halberstam, was shot in the abdomen in another part of Williamsburg, Driggs Avenue, by gunmen who were heard laughing as they drove away. The shooters remain at large.