One year ago, in what was a widely covered story, a Chabad Yeshiva student was seriously injured inside 770 in a stabbing attack, followed by a miraculous recovery. On the attack’s anniversary, ChabadInfo.com sat down for an exclusive interview with the Bochur, Hatomim Levi Rosenblat.
ChabadInfo: We are so glad you were able to have this conversation with us.
Levi Rosenblat: My pleasure, the Rebbe wants the miracles to be publicized.
ChabadInfo: It’s now a year since the attacks. Are those moments still clear in your mind?
Levi Rosenblat: I remember everything, every detail, vividly in my mind. I remember the seconds he was nearing me. I was sitting on a bench, he stood. Then he opened his sweater, the pocket of his sweater and he stabbed me. I remember it like yesterday.
CI: Do you still experience any residues from the attacks, like occasional aches or pains, or have you completely recovered since the attacks?
LR: B”H I can say that after all the medical care I’m completely back to full health. There are no ‘reminders’ of the attack.
CI: What went through your mind the moment the man pulled out the knife… Were you afraid? Did you suspect he would stab you?
LR: I saw him pull out the knife, but I didn’t have a chance to think either way, it was too fast. People in such situations frees-up – even soldiers, who train for precisely such dangerous situations, when it comes to the real thing they can get confused and not know what to do.
CI: Do you think that if you had some knowledge or information about how to identify and handle such people, and when to stay away, that it may have turned out different?
LR: Obviously, it’s always good to be ready, with knowledge, like what to do if someone walks in, should you come over to offer help, or stay back… In my situation it wouldn’t have helped but it can in other situations. It’s important people know what to look out for, especially in 770 where no one suspects such things, so you have to know when to react differently.
CI: Soon after the episode you went to Israel. When you here reports about stabbings against Israelis, do you identify more with the suffering involved, or to the contrary, do you think less of those attacks? Did your experience alter your perception of those attacks?
LR: Of course, I don’t feel that it can happen to me again. But when I hear it in the news, I think it’s more real for me because of my experience, which causes me to identify more with the suffering. We all need to be more vigilant and aware of our surroundings.
CI: Was the attack, in your opinion, motivated by anti-Semitism?
LR: Yes, absolutely. There is no reason a random person would walk in a shul and stab someone. I remember that he screamed something before stabbing me – I don’t recall the words because it was a very dramatic and stressful moment – but once I managed to run from here out of 770, I was told that he definitely screamed something about Jews.
CI: Anti-Semitism in the world today is on the rise, do you think that’s a reason to be concerned and to prepare for the possibility of such things, C”V?
LR: Of course we need to take things seriously, and anti-Semitism is getting worse… we have to be vigilant and prepared. Terror in the world generally is on the rise, in America there is less, so it’s easier not to feel it, but it can happen anywhere, everyone should be more aware and vigilant I think even a cursory understanding of how and when to avoid danger is important for everyone.
CI: So someone walking around Israel today – it’s important to be vigilant and prepared to handle such situations?
LR: Extremely important. Without question. At the same time it is important to know that it is our land and as the Rebbe has constantly told us, that Eretz Yisroel is the safest place.
CI: Are there precautionary measures, things which you think can be done, or the Gaboim can do, to make 770 safer for the future?
LR: Well, I think that for planned or organized attacks the American intelligence agencies are probably pretty reliable for catching those, or will warn about those. For other spontaneous attacks there is the police car outside, including the RV command station across the street. The police presence outside 770 definitely helps a lot.
Generally, 770 is considered an open space for everyone – and that’s a good thing – so naturally when a person walks in people aren’t suspicious, rather, they offer assistance, you know, what can I do for you, etc., so ultimately protection will need to be different then ‘regular’ areas. At the same time – and this may require some effort to happen – if not for the evenings then at least during nights, they should lock the main doors. These days they lock the main entrance to 770 during nights, so that’s already a good thing – but there definitely needs to be supervision and security at the entrances to 770 at night.
CI: When did you first hear about the attacker being killed by police?
LR: I always wanted to know what happened. After the first operation I asked about it and they told me. But I refused to see the video as long as I was still in the hospital. Even after leaving the hospital I didn’t see it. Only three weeks later, two days before traveling back to Israel, I allowed myself to view it.
CI: The fact that your attacker was killed – did that make you feel any better?
LR: Yes, definitely. Justice was served. At the end of the day, he brought it upon himself. Police have to be able to protect themselves – they keep us safe, there’s no reason they should be in danger even for a moment. Being that this already happened to me, I do feel good that the attacker is no longer here and therefore he cannot repeat it.
CI: Do you think what happened to you was a miracle?
LR: It was for sure a miracle, there’s no doubt in my mind. When such a knife penetrates, especially such vital, life-sensitive areas, you can be sure of nothing…
I can say that such a story happening in 770, it’s pretty frightening, but that I’m alive is definitely in the Zchus of the Rebbe.
CI: Is there anyone you would like to thank, someone particularly helpful?
LR: Well, of course all the many friends and Bochurim who came to visit. The doctors weren’t used to such a commotion in the ICU, they don’t see this every day, so I’m deeply thankful for all those who came, who stood at my side.
Particularly, I’d like to thank Hatzalah for everything they did, and a special thank you specifically to Yingi Bistritzki, the Hatzalah coordinator, he did so much.
Also, an uncle of mine who flew in from Israel with my mother, was instrumental in making sure everything was arranged and went smoothly, so thank you.
I would also like to thank a wonderful Crown Heights family that hosted my mother, and myself once I was released from the hospital.
CI: OK. What is your final message to our viewers?
LR: I’m just thankful to be alive, and to recover fully, and will continue bez”h coming to the Reebe and to 770. But this happening inside 770 – this may be a wakeup call for us. We should all make our own Choshbon HaNefesh and see what can be done different and better. This year being a Shnas Hakhel, Achdus is a good starting point – we can always use some of that.
With hope not to hear any bad news anywhere in the world. We should merit to the complete revelation of the Rebbe as Melech Hamoshiach, and we will all travel to the Beis Hamikdash with coming of Moshiach now!
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