Security officers in Jersey City after the shooting there, Dec. 10, 2019. (JTA/Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Security officers in Jersey City after the shooting there, Dec. 10, 2019. (JTA/Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Gun rampage at New Jersey kosher market hits heart of Jewish community

This story has been updated.

The gunmen who entered a Jersey City kosher supermarket this week and engaged in a deadly shootout with police deliberately chose the store, the city’s Jewish mayor said, just hours after officials had reported there was “no indication of terrorism” or a hate crime.

“Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked,” Steven Fulop said on Twitter on Dec. 10, the day of the shooting. “Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead. We have no indication there are any further threats.”

On Dec. 11, Fulop met with leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community to share up-to-date information and show the city’s support. He later tweeted: “we are thankful this community is part of JC and we will heal together.”

A police officer and three civilians were killed in gunfire that ended with an hourslong shootout at the JC Kosher Supermarket. The officer had been shot earlier at a nearby cemetery trying to head off two suspects in a homicide. Those were the two gunmen killed in the supermarket shootout.

In an early-morning tweet on Dec. 11, Fulop wrote: “Last night after extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location on MLK Dr.”

He added in a second tweet: “I’m Jewish and proud to live in a community like #JerseyCity that has always welcomed everyone. It is the home of #EllisIsland and has always been the golden door to America. Hate and anti-Semitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city.”

The dead police officer was identified as Det. Joseph Seals, a married father of five.

Two of the killed civilians were identified by as Moshe Deutsch, 24, and Leah Minda Ferencz, 33, who owned the store in the Greenville neighborhood with her husband, Moshe, who had left the store moments before the shooting to pray the afternoon Mincha service at the synagogue located next door, according to the report.

The shooting disturbed the heart of a small Orthodox Jewish community of nearly 100 families, most of whom moved from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn over the past few years.

According to locals, the JC supermarket is the only kosher one of its kind in the area. It serves basic groceries, sandwiches and salads. Next door is Khal Adas Greenville, a building with a synagogue on a lower level and a yeshiva for children on the upper level.

“It’s a beautiful tight-knit community, very kind people, and it’s devastating that something like this happened,” said Rabbi Shmully Levitin, a Chabad rabbi who lives in this city across the Hudson River from New York.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the day of the shooting that the New York Police Department would go on high alert.

“Although there is no credible or specific threat directed against New York City, I have directed the NYPD to assume a state of high alert. Tonight, NYPD assets are being redeployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community,” he tweeted.

He added: “History teaches us how dangerous it is to ignore this kind of hateful pattern. We must stop anti-Semitism aggressively and decisively, and I call upon all New Yorkers to join in rooting out this threat.”

Marcy Oster
Marcy Oster

Israel-based JTA correspondent


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