Rabbi Nathan (Nuchem) Rosenberg was walking on Roebling Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn when a man came up behind him, according to Rosenberg, tapped him on the shoulder, threw a liquid in his face, and ran away.
Rosenberg claimed that the liquid was bleach, although that is not yet confirmed. He was treated at a local hospital and released. According to a report in the New York Times, Rosenberg had a corneal abrasion and burns around one of his eyes.
Rosenberg is well-known in Williamsburg as an advocate for child sexual abuse victims in the tightly-knit Satmar Hasidic community. He runs a hotline and has a websitethat provide information, in Yiddish, for protecting children from sexual abuse. The Satmar community has just been through an especially traumatic sexual abuse trial which ended in the conviction of a community member, Nechemya Weberman. Weberman, 54, was found guilty of 59 counts of sex abuse against a child.
The vast majority of the rabbis of the Williamsburg community backed Weberman from the time of his arrest, and many in the community still support him despite the conviction. They continue to claim Weberman is innocent. Rosenberg, however, sat through the entire Weberman trial to show support for the victim.
Although some initially believed that the attack on Rosenberg was related to the Weberman conviction, a police department spokesperson said that the chemical attack was unrelated to the verdict. The police department confirmed that Rosenberg had been the victim of chemical burns, but were not yet able to identify the chemical.
There was an eyewitness to the attack who claimed he saw a man throw the liquid in the rabbi’s face and then run away. “It happened so fast,” Primo Santiago said. “Out of the corner of my eye I saw [Rosenberg] walking down the street, and the other guy ran from the fish store and threw the bleach.”
The Daily News reported that Rosenberg’s attacker was the son of a man whom Rosenberg has accused of abusing boys. This theory was supported by several accounts in various blogs serving the Williamsburg community.
According to the website of the International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, headquartered in Skokie, Illinois, Rosenberg’s alleged attacker was Shalom (Solomon) Shnitzler. Schnitzler’s Famous Fish Market is located on Roebling Street, the site of the attack. On the day of the Weberman verdict, Rosenberg posted on his blog that Rabbi Schnitzler sexually abuses boys.
According to numerous reports, Rabbi Rosenberg has been attacked several times for his work on behalf of sexual abuse victims in the Orthodox community. Some who criticize Rosenberg claim that he sometimes names as sex perverts people with whom he has business disagreements.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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