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December 13th, 2012
02:48 AM ET

Police charge man with throwing chemical at rabbi

By Rande Iaboni and Marina Carver, CNN

NEW YORK (CNN) - New York police have arrested a man for throwing a chemical, believed to be bleach, on a rabbi who advocates for sexual abuse victims.

Meilech Schnitzler, 36, turned himself in to police Wednesday and was charged with assault, menacing, criminal mischief, and criminal possession of a weapon.

He is accused of attacking Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in Brooklyn's tightknit Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg on Tuesday.

Schnitzler allegedly threw a chemical on Rosenberg's face, causing his eyes and face to burn.

Rosenberg runs a website and telephone call-in line that publicizes claims of sexual abuse in the Hasidic community, and he believes this attack was an attempt to "silence" him, according to Abe George, the rabbi's attorney.

Police would not comment on Schnitzler's motive.

But Rosenberg said earlier he knew who doused him, describing him as the son of a man he had reported on in the past as being allegedly involved in sexual abuse in the community, the lawyer said.

The assault happened a day after the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, a prominent community member in the conservative Satmar Hasidic community, was found guilty of sexually abusing a girl over a period of three years.

Weberman's conviction has put the spotlight on the insular Satmar Hasidic community, many of whom live in Williamsburg.

Joel Engelman, another advocate against sexual abuse among Orthodox Jews, describes himself as a survivor of such abuse. It is rare for respected members of the community to face such allegations in court, he said.

In the past, members of the community have intimidated and pressured those who have accused their leaders of sexual abuse, he said.

Rosenberg's vision is still blurry, but his attorney said he believes the rabbi will fully recover.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Crime • Judaism • Sex abuse

soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. dave

    all I know is when a man dressed in black goes to jail for molesting children and he is NOT a priest, I am happy

    December 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  2. Big Man

    The perpetratior, Meilech Schnitzler, is a damn anti-semite and a holocaust denier.

    December 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Jeremiah

      Then it's a hell of a disguise he wears in the pictures of him that I've seen. Or are you just trying to be funny? Or completely clueless? Maybe both.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  3. flybd5

    Disgusting people.

    December 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  4. RillyKewl

    The extremely insular Hasidic community is as inbred + crazy as any right wing christian fundie holy roller.
    They're almost as closed-off as the Amish. And quite insane.
    But I hope the old Rabbi is alright.
    He was fighting for victims of abuse. That is to be lauded, in any community.

    December 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  5. Bill

    These religious groups no matter who they are that condone abuse of men, women or children should not be tolerated anywhere in America. People are all individuals and have the same civil rights in this country. Such abusers should receive the maximum sentence allowable under the law and be tried by a jury that believes the above, no matter what their religion or nonreligion is. Anyone that welcomes any form of physical or mental abuse is a real soldier, but real stupid. Anyone who goes after the whistle blower should be held accoutable for their actions by our court systems. We have a lot of crazy people committing suicide and taking many people with them. We have a lot of abusers who kill their parents or abuse others because of how they were brought up by abusers and these folks need psychological help before they kill themselves or others. We have a lot of bullies who abuse children and others (kids and adults) and we are startign to look at this as a crime finally, but not before folks are killed. How to be a good parent should be a course in every public and provate school and I don't mean just bring your kids up as a jew, cahtolic, Babtist, or muslim, real parenting skills that provide you with the tools so you don't resore to physical, mental, or emotional abuse like hitting a kid, calling them a mother f---, telling them how worthless they are etc...

    December 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  6. z666

    Catholic Priests throw Gods Urine (aka/ Holy Water) on people every day for centuries – why are they arrested?

    December 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Frank Tillery

      Are you serious or do you just require attention? Please spare us your imbecilic remarks.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  7. Tebojockey

    Oy gevalt!

    December 13, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • guyman

      slowly but surly the wicked will be expose, why the cover up in other media? are they a shame after blasting muslims, everyone turn will come.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  8. gager

    "...charged with assault, menacing, criminal mischief, and criminal possession of a weapon. "
    How silly is this? One act and four charges. Our justice system and the laws are nuts.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Akira

      It was the intent of the crime that added the extra charges.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Da Man

      You should be charged with stupidity , foolishness, idiocy and senselessness.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Da Man

      You said, "You should be charged with stupidity , foolishness, idiocy and senselessness."
      If stupidity, foolishness, idiocy and senselessness were illegal, we'd have to arrest every believer in this country.

      Freedom of speech and religion give everyone the absolute right to be a complete fucking moron. Only when the idiocy leads to harm, especially harm inflicted on others, has the government an obligation to step in.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  9. Ria

    Did something happend to the bleach ??

    December 13, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • z666

      It became Kosher!

      December 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  10. Lisa

    Scout troops and teachers may have had individuals charged with child abuse, but it seems to take religion to breed a culture of abuse which prompts people to take extreme measures to protect the abusers.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • lol??

      You forgot about Hillary protecting Billy with a "vast right wing conspiracy".

      December 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • lol??

      Must be a marriage of maniacal convenience. Maybe she was getting a cut of Monica's profits, so nuthin's fer sure. Only the IRS knows.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ lol?? – What the fuck does Monica Lewinsky have to do with child abuse? Apparently you really are this stupid.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  11. empresstrudy

    I love the smell of liberal racism in the morning.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Huebert

      Smells like imagination.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      End racism.
      Embrace misanthropy.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • lol??

      "1Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

      December 13, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • PeriSoft

      A Jewish person attacking another Jewish person because he's advocating for abuse victims is not racism.

      Orthodox Jews are not liberal.

      Empresstrudy should consider relinquishing the throne.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • woodrow

      The stench is coming from you.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Air Cav Priest

      I love the smell of little altar boys early in the morning.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Pot, meet Kettle.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    A modest proposal: since most violence, and the worst violence in particular, is carried out by males lets replace males with something we can maintain in cell culture. No more male dominated religions or societies.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I don't want all my tax dollars to be spent on shoes and handbags.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • lol??

      The two Tom Toms are twins? Who'd a thunk it? Imagine callin' em for supper, "tom tom tom tom,,,,tom tom tom tom....to tom tom tom tom............... TAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHMMMM!"

      December 13, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  13. Matt Sewell

    Owned. Take that religion.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  14. slippery

    Shunn them all.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    In 2009, a study was published called "The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people" in which the genetic structures. of semitic folk from all over the world were compared.
    Of all the groups from the Dispora, one can argue that the Ashkenazi Jews, who settled in Europe (the Rhineland) in the early middle ages, are "white".
    Maghrebi Jews from North Africa, however, are not white.
    Sephardic Jews from the Iberian peninsula are not white either.

    Becuase of the wide and longstanding geographic distribution of the Jewish people, it is nearly impossible to classify each one of the enthnoreligious subsets under a single phylogenomic umbrella.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Actually, there is a particular haplotype associated with some Jews, the Cohains interestingly.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Dida3468

      Look, Im a sephardic jew and I am VERY white, you dont know what you are taliking about. Anyhow, what does this have to do with the article? Did you just want to show that you a knew a little bit of nothing significant?

      December 13, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Whoopsy!
      This is supposed to be a reply to Keksi, Iorondog and Chick-a-dee

      December 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |

    • Well, then there was Sammy Davis, Jr.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Dida
      "Sephardic" is a very wide classification.
      Originally, it defined those Jews who settled around Spain and Portugal, but these days the term colloquially encompases just about any Jewish person who follows the Sephadic Liturgy.
      That is why I added the geographic identifier.
      So calm yourself.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • lol??

      Every now and then I see somebody with orange hair and it sticks straight up. SOLOMON!!!!!!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Jim Brody

      OK then, thanks for your input. Now, back to the article we are discussing...

      December 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Roy

      Ashkenazi Jews are not white. They have significant non-white admixture.

      And as a group, they are at war with whites, as evidenced by their use of their immense political, financial and media power to destroy white majorities in western nations.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Jeremiah

      This could be the most uninformative line of argument I've read here in a long while. Go back far enough, and none of us are "white".

      December 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  16. Moron Whisperer

    This has nothing to do with religion u idiots.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • sick of christian phonies

      Yes it does. Most religions want their adherents to do as they say, no questions allowed. The Hasidim are programmed like sheep to follow unquestioningly their "respected leaders". It is especially effective in a community like this, that eschews contact with the outside world, where all adherentsw dress, look, and "think" the same. If one of the "pillars" of their community is threatened they react. Usually the accuser/trouble maker is intimidated and shunned; this guy went further. Look at the treatment of their women when they want a divorce.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • No one

      Seems to be revenge on a whistle-blower of sorts(or whatever the right term here is), good luck on recovery, though that must have hurt.

      December 13, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Astro

      You're as idiotic as your statements, feel free to leave to planet anytime soon.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  17. Tax Damned Churches NOW

    This Nation will; never reach its full potential until ALL religions are debased and debunked.

    Misogyny, fraud, chil abuse, a litany of crimes all due to self-serving religious zealots and the corrupt politicians that ggive them whatever they want in exchange for bloc votes.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • abdula Oblongota

      See you at work on the 24th and 25th! No overtime or holiday pay for you!!

      December 13, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'm ent.itled to my Yule holidays.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • a reasonable atheist

      I'll take off for Saturnalia.

      IO SATVRNALIA!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Reasonable Atheist
      From the Gutter Twins album "Saturnalia"

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyNKBk5dqMU?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360%5D
      (BTW – first attempt at embedding YouTube – hope it works!)

      December 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      DANGNABBIT!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @abdula Oblongota
      See you at work on the 24th and 25th! No overtime or holiday pay for you!!

      Actually, December 25th is a national holiday, like President's Day or Memorial Day. Because of this, my employer is closed on that day, so regardless of the fact that I am not Christian, I get the day off.

      Conversely, if I want to have my Holy day off, I have to use a vacation day.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • lol??

      "Tax Damned Churches NOW
      This Nation will; never reach its full potential........." Dude, your cup of iniquity was only half full and then you reelected the Big O, so it's highly likely to overflow. Have patience.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Ben

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyNKBk5dqMU&w=640&h=390]

      Is this the one you wanted to post Doc?

      December 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • RillyKewl

      God bless our Flying Spaghetti Monster!
      Happy Holidaze.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  18. Randall

    If the attacker wasn't also Jewish, we'd have a "hate crime". Assault is assault, let's stop pretending assault isn't bad enough.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Jim Brody

      No, some assaults are even worse. Like when they are done not just to injure or kill the person, but the motive was because that person belonged to a particular group, like Asians or caucasians. Often, it is hard to prove that motive, so then it is just prosecuted as a regular assault. It's worse because it tears at the social fabric. It's the same reason that assaults on the police are dealth with more severely than assaults on regular civilians.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Chuckles

      Possibly true but you need to understand the definition of a "hate crime" to make that as.sumption.

      Hate Crimes are when a person perpetrates a crime that targets an entire community of people based on race, religion, se.xuality, gender, age, or country of origin, this can mean for instance that is say, a sunni as.saults a shiite based on that person being a shiite and yells slurs and makes it very clear that is the reason why he is as.saulting the other person then that is a hate crime.

      Same thing with jews, or christians, or pagans, or buddhists. ect....

      In this instance, the crime as against a single person and not the jewish community so it was not a hate crime, regardless of who threw the bleach.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  19. Bob

    Religion is an cancer on society. It makes people do irrational things.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • abdula Oblongota

      You can cover for me while I take off the 24th and 25th too! Thanks for working on "just another day"...tool.

      December 13, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Steven

      No, stupidity makes you do stupid things.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Stupidity allows one to believe in gods which allows one to do even stupider things.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Jim Brody

      Why? What's religion got to do with it. The religion of those involved had nothing to do with the story. It was a tangential fact.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • DB

      Does it make people go out of their way to be deliberately offensive in anonymous internet forums?

      Jerk.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Primewonk

      Religion had everything to do with it. These folks are religious fundiot nutters.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Akira

      Jim Brody:
      'Rosenberg runs a website and telephone call-in line that publicizes claims of s e x u a l abuse in the Hasidic community, and he believes this attack was an attempt to “silence” him, according to Abe George, the rabbi’s attorney.'

      It absolutely has to do with religion, and the habitually chronic cover-up of the cover up of child abuse within those religious communities.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Merry Christmyth!

      December 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  20. Michael

    It's very sad to read about incidents like this, though I'm glad to see that the rabbi is taking an active role in defending the children of his community. It would be nice if the RCC could learn from his example, but we all know that isn't going to happen.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:52 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.