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. Waco Lover

    Look on the bright side. He got acid for free. Jews love that.

    December 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  2. hrharvat

    Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • The Life of 3.14

      That's humanity in general isn't it? From Atheist to Zoroastrians.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  3. Hey George Patton!

    Case closed, huh? You nailed that one!

    Hey "son of a man he had reported on in the past as being allegedly involved in s' exual abuse?"

    I'm calling you with the good news.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • George Patton

      Thanks, you win my friend, I hope they hang him or lock him up for long long time.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  4. alj2lkjlkjskljkl

    I would love to live in a world without religious wackos.

    Religious wacko being defined as any person who would use violence to try to force their religion on others. Tho im not a fan of people who try to force their religion on others period; however, i can at least tolerate the non violent ones.

    If there was a big red button that would erase all religious wackos from the entirety of history, id push it in a heartbeat.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  5. Hal of California

    For anyone who wants a revealing, heart-rending portrait of how intolerant, uncompromising and suffocating the Satmar community is, read "Unorthodox" by a former member of the group, Deborah Feldman.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  6. Marcus

    As an Orthodox Jew myself, I am aghast that a fellow Jew (albeit of a very different stripe) could stoop to such a low level. Unfortunately there are bad apples among every group, religious or not.

    December 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  7. Mickey1313

    This story adds evidence that fundies of any creed are dangerous. All religious fundamentalists need to be put down.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • lol??

      Why Mr. Mouse?

      December 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Ira

      @ Mickey1313: ALL religious fundamentalists need to be put down because ONE acted inappropriately?

      December 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  8. lol??

    What's with CNN's readership? This story and the giftin' story about Jews are the ONLY ones where I had posts removed. I wasn't nasty either.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • I wonder


      Removed? Are you sure that they made it past the automatic word filter?

      (I see lots of posts from you on this article)

      December 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • lol??

      Yes, they were there. Must be a NY thing.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  9. DickPerry


    December 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
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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.