Chasidic man pleads not guilty to Purim eve arson

(JTA) — A 22-year-old resident of a Chasidic enclave in New York pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the Purim eve arson of a dissident neighbor’s car.

Aron Fromowitz of New Square entered his plea Tuesday in Ramapo Town Court. He is accused of setting fire to a car belonging to Aaron Rottenberg, whose house was set alight last May by Shaul Spitzer reportedly because Rottenberg refused to pray in the main synagogue in New Square presided over by Rabbi David Twersky, the rebbe of the Skverer Chasidic sect. Both Fromowitz and Spitzer reportedly worked for the rebbe.

Fromowitz, who turned himself in Tuesday, posted bail and was ordered to stay away from Rottenberg’s home. The case will be moved to New Square Village Court, according to the Journal News. Fromowitz could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for the arson charge.

Rottenberg reportedly told police that he did not believe the two arsons were related. He said after last year’s attack that he and his family had been harassed at the rebbe’s direction. 

Spitzer, 18, of New Square, has pleaded guilty to first degree assault and faces 5 to 10 years in prison following a plea agreement. His sentencing is set for April 17. 

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