A Miami man who police said attacked a 65-year-old man in Manhattan is charged in an anti-Semitic hate crime on Monday — the first full day of Hanukkah.
Steven Jorge, 28, was arrested Monday morning after punching and kicking the man, whom he did not know, and making an anti-Semitic remark, the NYPD said.
Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, said he was in touch with the victim, an Orthodox Jew who was wearing a black yarmulke and checking his cellphone when the attack began.
The victim told police that Jorge struck him in the face with a closed fist, causing him to fall to the ground on 41st Street in midtown around 11 a.m., the NYPD said. Jorge then repeatedly kicked the victim while he was on the ground, police said.
“The victim of this crime is in total shock and disbelief,” Hikind, a former state assemblyman, said in a statement. “He is traumatized and will live forever with this wanton attack.”
Jorge was charged with a felony count of hate crime assault. He was remanded into custody pending a psychiatric exam, records show. A representative of the Legal Aid Society, which is defending him, according to court records, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The attack was condemned by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Jewish leaders and anti-bias groups.
Cuomo said he was directing the State Police hate crimes task force to assist the NYPD in its investigation.
“This horrific and cowardly act of anti-Semitism is repugnant to our values, and it's even more despicable that it occurred over the holidays,” Cuomo said in a statement.
New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, the chair of the council’s Jewish Caucus, said on Twitter that, “We can’t even get through the 8 days of Chanukah without a hate crime here in NYC.”
“As the world celebrates the holiday season, NYC Jews are beaten on the streets,” Deutsch wrote.
"It’s not enough to condemn anti-Semitism — we have to confront it," Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Christmas night. The despicable crimes committed against our Jewish community … are an attack on ALL New Yorkers,"
Hikind called for a “concrete strategy to address the rise of these attacks.”
Hate crimes in the city increased by 33% between 2018 and 2019, the NYPD said in October. Several of the anti-Semitic attacks involved vehicles pulling up to victims and yelling anti-Semitic words or committing assaults, police said.
The New York chapter of the civil rights group the Council of American-Islamic Relations, called “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
“We continue to stand and defend our fellow community members in the face of growing xenophobia and bigotry,” legal director Ahmed Mohamed said in a statement.