Local Jewish leaders react to New York Hanukkah stabbing
Prosecutors filed federal hate crime charges against the man accused of stabbing five Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah.
The group gathered inside a rabbi's home in New York on Saturday when the attacker found his way inside with a machete.
"Somebody walked into somebody's home, purposefully, wanting to hurt and kill Jewish people," said Michael Dzik, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation.
Grafton Thomas stabbed five people inside the home. One of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries.
Investigators obtained Thomas's journals, where he drew swastikas and wrote about Nazi culture. They also discovered he searched nearby synagogues on his phone, as well as information about Hitler.
"The gore and the shock and the violence and the randomness of it is very scary," said Rabbi Craig Lewis from the Mizpah congregation.
Rabbi Lewis says though the anti-Semitic attack happened in New York, it is felt 800 miles away in Chattanooga.
"An attack on any Jewish person or any Jewish community is felt by every Jew around the world," Lewis told Channel 3.
The attack has been labeled as a hate crime came on the seventh night of Hanukkah as they were lighting the candles.
Dzik says the lights of Hanukkah still overshadow the darkness surrounding the recent attack.
"Hanukkah can really be a reminder of standing up against hate. I think I've seen the Jewish community turn this really tragic incident into something that can be a positive step forward," said Dzik.
Dzik says he hopes this tragedy will cause others to speak out against hate crimes across the country.
"Christians, Muslims, whoever is being persecuted, we all need to stand up together to put an end to this," Dzik told Channel 3.
Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.
Rabbi Lewis says his congregation will pray for the stabbing victims on Friday at the Mizpah congregation.