Orthodox Jew burned in arson attempt, family blames religious feud in N.Y. community

Casey Glynn – CBS News May 23, 2011

An Orthodox Jewish father of four was severely burned after a religious feud led to an arson attempt, according to the victim’s family.

Police say Aron Rottenberg, 43, fought off a man armed with an incendiary device Sunday and ended up hospitalized with third-degree burns covering 50 percent of his body. The attacker was carrying a rag soaked with flammable liquid behind the Rottenberg family home in New Square, N.Y., an all-Hasidic Jewish village, police told the Journal News.

Rottenberg, a plumber, went outside to face the suspect, who police said had a device with a long, improvised fuse. In the struggle, the device caught fire, injuring both men, reports CBS Station WCBS.

18-year-old Shaul Spitzer was reportedly arrested for the attack on charges of first-degree attempted arson and first-degree assault, both of which are felonies.

Rottenberg’s family says they had been targeted before because Rottenberg worshipped in his own way, apart from the main synagogue used by the community’s grand rabbi.  Six months ago, car windows were smashed; earlier this month, the windows of the house were busted in, reports WCBS.

“Doing your own thing, that is not something they can take,” said Rottenberg’s son-in-law, Moshe Elbaum.  “They don’t like that, because it’s showing people can do what they want to do.”

“Hopefully this is the end of it, and everyone’s going to be okay,” he said.

Police said Sunday that they are still investigating and have not yet found a connection between the arson attempt and previous incidents, reports the Journal News.

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