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Man stabbed in New York Hanukkah attack may not regain consciousness, family says

Flower bouquets rest on the doorstep of a rabbi's residence in Monsey, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, following a stabbing Saturday night during a Hanukkah celebration. (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)

One of the victims of Saturday night’s attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, N.Y. remains in critical condition and his family says the man may not regain consciousness.

In a statement released by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council late Tuesday evening, Josef Neumann’s family said he was “severely stabbed multiple times” during the attack, suffering wounds to the head and neck, and that his right arm was “shattered.”

The family said the knife penetrated Neumann’s skull, plunging directly into his brain.

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“Our father’s status is so dire that no surgery has yet been performed on the right arm,” the statement reads. “Doctors are not optimistic about his chances to regain consciousness, and if our father does miraculously recover partially, doctors expect that he will have permanent damage to the brain; leaving him partially paralyzed and speech-impaired for the rest of his life.”

In the statement, the family says Neumann has seven children, “many” grandchildren, a great-grandchild and has brothers and sisters.

READ MORE: ‘This is terrorism’ — 5 wounded in stabbing attack at Hanukkah celebration in N.Y.

Neuman was one of five victims injured after a man wielding a machete entered a Hasidic rabbi’s home on Saturday and attacked visitors celebrating Hanukkah.

“Please continue to pray for Yeohosef Ben Perel. (Yeohosef is our father’s Hebrew name. Ben means son, and Perel was the name of our grandmother OBM,)” the family’s statement reads.

“We shall not be let this terrible hate-driven attack be forgotten, and let us all work to eradicate all sorts of hate.”

Yisroel Kraus was also at the rabbi’s home during the attack. He told CNN that Neumann is an “incredibly kind human being,” and a mentor.
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“One of the most selfless people I know,” Kraus told CNN. “Since I knew him he was a very poor man. He never had a dime to his name and always goes around collecting money for other poor families. It was never about himself.”
Click to play video: 'Federal hate crimes charges filed against suspect in Hanukkah stabbing attack'
Federal hate crimes charges filed against suspect in Hanukkah stabbing attack
The alleged attacker was apprehended by police near Manhattan shortly after the attack took place.
Licence plate readers were able to track the man’s car as it headed towards the city, officers say. Police have since identified the suspect as 37-year-old Grafton Thomas.
On Monday, Federal prosecutors filed hate-crime charges against him.
Thomas was held without bail after appearing in federal court facing face five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon and causing injuries.
A day earlier, he pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.
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Authorities said handwritten journals containing references to Jews and anti-Semitism were found in his home. Internet searches on a phone recovered from his car included repeated searches for “Why did Hitler hate the Jews,” as well as “German Jewish Temples near me” and “Prominent companies founded by Jews in America,” the complaint said.
In a statement released on behalf of Thomas’ family on Sunday, attorney Michael Sussman said the attacker had a “long history of mental illness and hospitalizations.”
His family said he has “no known history of anti-Semitism” and was “raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races.”
“He is not a member of any hate groups,” the statement read.
Click to play video: '‘They threw furniture at him’ Official praises courage of congregants during Monsey stabbings'
‘They threw furniture at him’ Official praises courage of congregants during Monsey stabbings
In the wake of the attack, police in New York have increased their presence in Jewish communities.
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Saturday’s violence was at least the tenth anti-Semitic incident in the New York and New Jersey area in the last week, according to the Anti-Defamation League.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the attack an act of domestic terrorism, and said he will be proposing a more stringent domestic terrorism law to tackle the ongoing issue.
Click to play video: 'New York governor says he’ll be proposing domestic terrorism law for state'
New York governor says he’ll be proposing domestic terrorism law for state
“This is domestic terrorism,” he said. “This is people intending to create mass harm, mass violence, generate fear based on race, colour, creed. That is the definition of terrorism.“Just because they don’t come from another country doesn’t mean they’re not terrorists.”—With files from Maham Abedi and The Associated Press

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