Follow Us:
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

‘I’ve cried my eyes out’: Victims of New Jersey shooting are mourned

Leah Ferencz, the mother of three children, was killed in the attack, which law enforcement officials said Wednesday had specifically targeted the kosher grocery.

By: New York Times | Published: December 12, 2019 1:41:29 pm
new jersey shooting, Hasidic Jewish families, JC Kosher Supermarket, world news, indian express The funeral of Moshe Deutsch, a 24-year-old rabbinical student in Brooklyn on Wednesday evening, Dec. 11, 2019. He lived in Brooklyn and had been shopping at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, N.J. when he was shot and killed on Tuesday. (Benjamin Norman/The New York Times)

Written by Sharon Otterman

For the dozens of Hasidic Jewish families who had settled in Jersey City over the past few years, the JC Kosher Supermarket served as a community hub.

It was the sole kosher grocery store in the area, stocking Kedem grape juice, canned vegetables and candy. The store’s popular deli counter was run by a young couple — among the first to relocate to Jersey City from the Satmar Hasidic neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in search of more affordable housing and a bit of open space.

The couple, Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, and Moishe Duvid Ferencz, owned the store together. Leah Ferencz would stay behind when her husband ducked out to pray at the small synagogue next door each day around lunch time.

It was at precisely such a moment Tuesday afternoon, Moishe Ferencz’s mother said, when two people wielding guns rushed toward the store and began firing. At least one customer escaped as the attack began, said Shimon Goldberger, who witnessed the onslaught. Another customer was grazed by bullets but survived.

Leah Ferencz, the mother of three children, was killed in the attack, which law enforcement officials said Wednesday had specifically targeted the kosher grocery. Also killed were Moshe Deutsch, a 24-year-old rabbinical student who lived in Brooklyn and had been shopping at the store, and a Latino store worker, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49.

Joseph Seals, a police detective assigned to a task force whose mission was to remove guns from the Jersey City streets, was killed before the market attack in a cemetery, when he confronted the assailants, identified by police as David Anderson and Francine Graham.

Moishe and Leah Ferencz had met through a matchmaker in Monroe, New York, and the couple had lived for some time in Brooklyn, Moishe Ferencz’s mother, Victoria Ferencz, said in an interview. A few years ago, the couple moved to Jersey City, where they purchased the grocery. They had grown to like their new hometown and were well-known in the neighborhood, Victoria Ferencz said. She described her daughter-in-law as a wonderful mother and wife who liked to help others.

“I’ve cried my eyes out already, I’m feeling pretty broken,” she said Wednesday after hearing the news of Leah Ferencz’s death from Jewish community media reports. “I feel sorry for my son. She’s going to heaven, but he and his children will have it hard.”

Jairo Casado, who worked at the kosher supermarket for about eight months last year, remembers the Ferenczes as a polite couple whose priorities were always their family, their faith and their business.

“They treated all employees with the most respect,” Casado, 26, said. “Always offering extra money for side jobs, always offering to take me home. Just great people all around.”

Rabbi David Niederman, the executive director of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, a major Satmar community organization, said that the couple’s decision to open a grocery store in Jersey City helped “pave the way for a new community.”

“She was a lady full of love for others, and unfortunately her life was cut short,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.

Deutsch had been following in the footsteps of his father, Abraham Deutsch, a well-known figure in the broader Satmar Hasidic community who organizes a large food drive each year before the Jewish holiday of Passover, Niederman said.

Deutsch studied at a new yeshiva that he had helped establish and get off the ground, Niederman said. A Twitter post by Chai Lifeline, an international children’s health support network, showed a picture of Deutsch smiling while participating in a bicycle ride fundraiser for the organization.

Niederman said at the news conference that Deutsch’s body had been found riddled with bullets. “Can you imagine, a few hundred bullets went into the body of a 24-year-old child,” he said, breaking into tears. “How can we as a community bear that?”

Rodriguez, the store employee, had worked there about a year at most, stacking shelves and making food deliveries, customers said. A woman who community members said was his wife was standing outside the police tape Tuesday evening, crying. She declined to comment.

“Miguel was a very nice, quiet guy,” said Shaya Bodenstein, standing outside of the store, which was closed off with wooden planks as of Wednesday afternoon. “I used to see him all the time — always helping.”

The deaths shocked the tight-knit Hasidic community, locally and globally. Throughout the night, people shared information about the attack and its victims via messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Additional security was deployed at Jewish sites in New York City and New Jersey. On Wednesday, in Williamsburg, a truck pulled up outside of a Satmar community girls school to deliver a security booth to be posted outside its entrance.

Hasidic Jews had begun arriving in the largely African American neighborhood of Greenville in Jersey City about five years ago, as part of a broader expansion into areas outside Brooklyn. In Jersey City, they bought a scattering of faded but roomy wood-framed rowhouses at prices that were less than half of what homes of similar size would cost in New York, The Times reported in 2017.

Over time, familiarity among the area’s different cultures began to build, residents said. There were discussions on sidewalks and over backyard fences about dog ownership — unfamiliar to Hasidic families — and child rearing. The Ferenczes gave out candy from the kosher market to neighborhood children on Halloween. There had been no acts of violence.

Now, the kosher market is in ruins, the cash register and walls riddled with bullet holes. Its front wall was smashed open by the armored police vehicle that rammed into the store during the assault, as police made a rush at the shooters.

“We have about 100 families,” said one Hasidic resident who answered the phone at the community’s small synagogue next door Tuesday evening and asked to be identified by only his first name, Mark. “We have schools for boys and girls, and a kosher grocery and deli. We have a very peaceful, beautiful life. And then, all of a sudden, this happened.”

For all the latest World News, download Indian Express App

0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by