Police: NY Man Badly Burned In Religious Dispute

NEW SQUARE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — An orthodox Jewish father of four said he was apparently punished for worshipping his own way after an attack left him with burns covering 50 percent of his body.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported a rift exploded into a fiery confrontation in Rockland County Sunday morning.

“His upper body is third-degree burns all over,” the victim’s son-in-law, Moshe Elbaum, said.

Elbaum said the top half of Aron Rottenberg’s body is covered in excruciatingly painful burn wounds. He said his father-in-law suffered the burns defending his family, confronting a man who police said was trying to fire bomb their home.

“He tried to murder people who were sleeping in the house,” Elbaum said.

Early Sunday morning, Rottenberg, 43, was sleeping in his Truman Avenue home in New Square when a family member saw an intruder in the backyard.

Rottenberg, a plumber, went outside to face the suspect, who police said had a device with flammable liquid and a long, improvised fuse. In the struggle, the device caught fire, injuring both men.

Police arrested 18-year-old Shaul Spitzer, also of New Square, and charged him with first-degree attempted arson and first-degree assault, both felonies.

Spitzer was transported to a burn unit in New York City, while Rottenberg was taken to Westchester Medical Center.

Rottenberg’s wife and children surrounded him at the hospital, saying they were too terrified to return home to their all-Hasidic Jewish community. They said a religious rift in the community led to them being targets before.

Family members said that because Rottenberg left the village’s main synagogue, and now worships elsewhere, some in the community want the family gone. Six months ago, car windows were smashed; earlier this month, the windows of the house were busted in.

“Doing your own thing, that is not something they can take,” Elbaum said. “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.

The Rottenberg family installed surveillance cameras after the previous incidents, and police said that’s how the suspect was caught in the act of pouring liquid around the property in the back.

Family members said that boosted security, and Rottenberg’s bravery, saved all of their lives.

Aron Rottenberg was expected to remain hospitalized for at least the next month.

More from Dave Carlin
  • dg681

    These are the same sick people running our East Ramapo public school.

  • KPMc

    All right… that’s obviously not me but some coward who thinks the anonymity of the internet isn’t enough so he can’t sign his own name nor does he have the intelligence to refute anything I say.

    When you grow the balls to stand up for what you say let me know but in the meantime why don’t you go crawl back under the rock from which your entire ancestry came.

    Tough guys on the internet are pretty funny to begin with but tough guys that can’t even remotely identify themselves even though they are on the other side of a keyboard… pathetic.

  • eli

    well he didnt follow the rules of the community and if your not happy with it you have the choice to move out

  • Hillcrest Rebbi

    the holly regime is over bin-laden is dead the dictatorship days are over they tried this garbage in Monroe and it eventually broke and the same is happening here in new square

  • BB

    NOTHING WILL BE DONE ABOUT THIS HATE CRIME IN RAMAPO BECAUSE St. Lawrence is not only Town Supervisor but also the self-anointed Chief of Police. His FRIEND is Governor of New York State and he delivered the BLOCK VOTE.
    This community practices Religious Discrimination in housing and yet GETS MILLIONS IN FEDERAL, STATE and Local tax money!
    Nothing was done about the burning down of another person’s home in New Square .
    NOTHING WAS DONE about the cutting down of trees on private property or destruction of a fence next to the health hazard chicken slaughter house, a slaughter house closed by federal inspectors after county health workers were told to stay out of it.
    Nothing was done about children and fire fighters being put at risk with doors of a school illegally chained shut.
    Nothing was done about the theft of 24 million in federal funds for supposed education.
    WHERE IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT investigation into the political power brokering and other CRIMINAL activity in RAMAPO?

  • The Moral Truth

    You know very well, and the stupid Americans know equally well, that we control their government, irrespective of who sits in the White House. You see, I know it and you know it that no American president can be in a position to challenge us even if we do the unthinkable. What can they (Americans) do to us? We control congress, we control the media, we control show biz, and we control everything in America. In America you can criticize God, but you can’t criticize Israel.” Israeli spokeswoman, Tzipora Menache 2009

  • larry

    Howmany times did you ever hear about murder / any serious crime in the orthodox jewish community ? , well what I could say I”m not jewish and from my view jewish people are in my eyes a very respectful religion I”m really amazed over their behavior and can’t understand why our , our I mean non jewish education isn’t on the right track while thiers is , so what that we heard some story by them its more than normal , ( normal according what happenes by us each and every single day )

    • Native NYer

      When I walk thru Boro Park Brooklyn at night I feel much safer than walking thru Harlem.

  • rtg

    I hope Mr. Rottenberg’ recovers, and I sincerely hope that those that instigated this horrible attack take a good look in the mirror.

  • Joseph Didonato

    Again religion is the cause of VIOLENCE!!!!!

    • The Rabbi

      sure it’s 90%, but only after you discount Mao’s China, Stalins Russia, Secular hitler, Viet-cong Vietnam, Hutu- Somalia, Cambodia, ETC. ETC. ETC. If this wouldn’t involve Religious Jews, then all of you anti Semites & anti- Religion lunatics would NOT care one bit!

  • Pinny

    To all the anti-Semites out there who love to spew their venom and comment on this kind of story…
    The only reason this IS a published story is precisely because Jewish violence is so rare!
    It’s like the old journalistic maxim… “Dog bites man” is NOT a story (because it happens all the time), but “Man bites Dog!” – THAT is story (because you virtually never hear of that happening!). Ditto for Jews acting violently. Of course the teenager who did this is an idiot and a lunatic, but he is certainly NOT representitive of how (especially religious) Jews behave.

  • RichieT

    Considering all the people being killed in the middle east because of minor differences in how they practice their religion, you’d think that people in the USA, would be allot more understanding.

  • chaim

    As an Orthodox Jew myself, I was in utter shock and loss of words learning this tragic story. Personally, I don’t know people around me that would be able to committ such an horrible crime.
    That teenager is just insane, evil and overwhelmed with stupidity.
    But so as that teenager did – trying to burn down a house with innocent people inside because of what he deemed the sins of the house owner – some commenters do, by blaming the entire community which might be innocent and deeply hurt by what’s happened.
    Don’t rush to judge everyone over the acts of one evil man. the one guilty will be found as such and sentenced to jail. should god have mercy on his rotten soul!

    • Dr. A.E.Mossberg

      The response of the community to this act I think will determine how big a brush stroke will be wielded. Swift condemnation of the criminal and his act and full support of the victims should be the only acceptable response.

  • Karen

    This is completely insane. It is against civilized behavior. Are we going back to the Inqusition when Jews were burnt at the stake for behaving differently from their neighbors? As a Jew, I am urged to try to regard my fellow Jews with, if not love, at least respect for their way of being Jewish. I see none of that here. I wish Mr. Rottenberg a complete recovery and I would hope that his assailant was dealt with severely by civil authorities, not religious ones.

  • Wowpeoplesuck

    You know, not to sound like a ****, but you would think that of all people, the Jews would understand the need for tolerance…

    • Karen

      You don’t sound like an *** at all. Jews went down South to campaign for civil rights. One would think that respect would be extended to one another.

  • Ellen

    Terrible. terrible, terrible. This country was founded on religious freedom, and how dare this community dictate to others on how to worship or not worship.

  • Bell Toller

    Mr. Rottenburg did not call 911 when he saw the intruder in is backyard. He needs to be investigated.

    The police have no right to charge Mr. Spitzer with arson. It was the actions of Mr. Rottenburg that the caused the flammable liquid to go off.

    • RichieT

      Somebody needs to smack you in the back of the head and so you wake up. If he wasn’t planning on burning the house down, WHY was he carrying something he could use to start a fire???????????????

  • Space Scrolls

    Correct. Einstein said, “Science without Religion is blind, but Religion without Science is lame.” Space will set us all free.

  • LG

    I concur.

  • Mr. Putnam

    Being Jewish has nothing to do with this act of depraved indifference>

    This is a sick teen who needs help since normal people don’t attempt to burn down a home with people sleeping inside.

    Jew or Gentile—it makes no difference!

  • hanks

    they are not worshiping the religion they are worshiping the idol the rebbe.

  • Catholic

    Why are there so many vile anti-semitic comments? This is deplorable.


    This is an all-Hasidic Jewish community? Sounds like housing discrimination to me.

    • Nomnomom

      An extremely large amount in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn actually. In any case how can you compare numbers? One is the majority and one is the minority…the minority being Blacks here – not by choice.

  • Average Joe

    U.S. taxpayers give Billion$ and Billion$ to Israel….more than any other country….while unemployment and homeless are at record high.

    • Brian the new yorker

      Well said my friend, we need to focus on what our people need not what the Jews wants. See what happen when Obama said about 1967 boarders !! All hell broke lose, wanna know how they will live without our tax dollars and even better wanna know how much better life will be for us when we keep our money for ourselves

    • Karen

      What does Israel have to do with this? This isn’t about Israel. It’s about intolerance.

      • KPMc

        Don’t every one of the people in that community have dual citizenship? Are they not citizens of Israel also?

        Sorry… but that is part of the problem.. The separatism.. the attempt to keep everything in community instead of reporting to authorities. The belief that you can be loyal to two countries when obviously one does take precedence.

        These things are all inter-connected in the whole mindset of these people and where it has led them. Ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t matter won’t help solve the problems.

  • Gerald Waldman

    Shaul Spitzer does not seem to me to be a good Jew. No Jew should be trying to force anyone to pray or believe the way they do. Good Jews do NOT seek converts nor should they be putting down anyone else’ beliefs. If found guilty (and it seems that he is) then he should face the full penalties of the law. If this is what his “Grand” Rabbi is teaching, then the “grand” Rabbi should be charged with and tried for incitement and also as a conspirator in the attack. A very shameful and un-Jewish act, as were the previous attacks ob the Rottenberg family and their property. The citizens of NEW SQUARE, NY should be ashamed at was has been going on there.

  • flea

    It was at that time….when the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, when his heart was filled with nothing but evil. That was the time when God regretted ever having made man on earth. God was to erase man from the earth’s face. So filled with violence and hatred was the soul of man that God sent the rains to destroy his own creation….Like that it was that all on earth was destroyed. But he spared Noah and his family from the 40 days of rain. And to Noah he made a promise…God said “Never again will i curse the earth because of man. Never again will i strike down every living thing as i have done.” And so it was that God made a covenant with Noah and his descendants, a promise that there would never be another flood to wash away the dryness of the earth. As a sign of that promise, he took a dab of violet, a touch of indigo, a blob of blue, a splash of green, a bit of yellow, a wash of orange, and a ribbon of red. He placed them side by side, curved them into an arch, gave life to it, and called it a rainbow. It’s the rainbow that seals God’s promise to his people…a promise of love and peace, friendship and joy. So, somewhere over the rainbow seals a promise that God will always care for his people. With each brilliant color shines hope, new life and dreams…because dreams are made of rainbows. Give someone a rainbow day! Father John

    • The Burning Bush

      The Ark is being built by SpaceX. When The Day after Tomorrow (the movie) happens, take a pair of each animal, or their frozen embryos, and reproduce them on the Moon and on Mars.

  • moshe

    being a Jew myself that grew up in Brooklyn let me try to explain, we all worship and pray to the same god and not to any one in between, and there are many different synagogues around where we perform the prayer services and one can choose to go to which ever synagogue they like, the prayers are all the same and the same god, but in the village of new square where the grand rabbi lives there is just one main synagogue where everybody must go to pray, and the rule of the village is that in no other place (house or synagogue) may the prayer services be performed other than in the main synagogue where the grand rabbi prays, they want everyone that lives in the community to come there and pray, and this guy decided to pray elsewhere and therefor some try to get rid of him and his family for no valid reason, but the religion is the same regardless. but what spitzer did today is totally unacceptable and should be charged.

  • DanTe

    If you’re going to worship a religion than worship it as that religion dictates. What, you’re going before your god and said: well, I felt like worshipping some way other than what you wanted? Dopes.

  • VY

    It’s so nice to see how it appears that only super orthodox will assault and attempt to kill other Jews who choose to practice their Jewishness in a different, but no less faithful way than the Hasidic do.

    • Karen

      Not all Hasidim are totally meshugene. A rebbe has a responsibility to his community to make sure that the behavior of that community advances each person inside that community and someone is asleep at the switch. This may be restricted to that enclave — I certainly hope so. I hope the poor victim recovers fully — his burns are dangerous and maybe even life threatening (people died from less serious burns after 9/11) without major scarring and disability and I hope the perpetrator is treated with the severityhis act deserves — by civil and not religious authorities. They have shown no capacity to inhibit this behavior and may have even provoked it, either deliberately or not.

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