NEW YORK (Jan. 27)
Mayor John V. Lindsay ordered an immediate police report today on the Friday night mugging of a 64-year-old Brooklyn rabbi–a former president of the New York Board of Rabbis–who was robbed and beaten by two Negro youths as he arrived for services at Shaare Zedek synagogue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Rabbi Max Schenk, who has been rabbi of Shaare Zedek since 1949, suffered a broken arm and other injuries. In a statement from his bed at Swedish Hospital he said of his attack, “I don’t believe there was anything racial about the assault. I think they were two young punks who were looking for someone to rob and just picked on me when they saw me enter the temple alone.” Mayor Lindsay was reportedly very much disturbed when he got word of the mugging. He phoned Rabbi Schenk at the hospital. Rabbi Schenk said. “The Mayor told me how deeply distressed he was and then assured me that all efforts would be made to apprehend my assailants.” Rabbi Schenk said he thanked the Mayor for the call and told him he expected to leave the hospital in a few days.
The assault on the Brooklyn rabbi came as tension continued to grow between the city’s Negro and Jewish communities. The situation which has alarmed leaders of all faiths, black and white, stemmed from last year’s crippling teachers strike which pitted Negro supporters of school decentralization against the predominantly Jewish United Federation of Teachers. It was escalated recently by anti-Semitic statements made by Negro militants over the radio and at Board of Education hearings on decentralization. Another factor of mounting concern to Jews has been a rash of suspicious fires in synagogues and Hebrew schools in four of the city’s five boroughs. A number of juvenile suspects have been arrested, all of them white.
Police announced yesterday the arrest of a 17-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, both white, in connection with a fire that destroyed the Congregation Torei Zonov synagogue in The Bronx. The suspects were picked up by members of a special squad set up by Mayor Lindsay to investigate the fires in houses of worship. The girl was identified as Mary Reed of The Bronx. The boy’s name was not given because of his age. Police said the pair entered the synagogue with the intention of robbing the poor box. They were said to have used matches for light and some were said to have dropped and started the fire. The girl has been charged with arson, burglary, larceny, malicious mischief and desecration of a house of worship.