Religious dispute continues in New Square

May 25, 2011 3:13:01 PM PDT
A burn victim's family believes he was attacked because he boycotted a local synagogue in Rockland County.

This emotional case is dividing many in the Orthodox Jewish community in New Square.

Ruth Rottenberg has lived in her house for 18 years, and says she never thought it would come to this: her husband of 25 years is lying in a hospital bed with burns over half his body.

While outside, members of the Hassidic community were trying to shout down the family's attorney.

At the heart of the dispute is Aron Rottenberg's decision not to pray at the main synagogue run by Grand Rebbe David Twersky, something that's virtually forbidden in the Orthodox community of New Square.

Rottenberg was seriously burned early Sunday when he tried to stop an 18-year-old suspect from throwing a Molotov cocktail at the house.

The attack was thwarted because Jacob Rottenberg was up all night watching security cameras.

The family was on edge after getting a chilling phone call last week.

The family says the trouble started last fall with windows being broken.

A YouTube video shows protests outside the house with the crowd chanting for the family to move out.

Wednesday, several members of the Orthodox community expressed regret and deny orders to torch the house came from the rabbi himself.

The Rottenberg's disagree and are asking for a federal investigation saying numerous police complaints went unanswered.

Do you have something to add to this story? Click here to contact Eyewitness News.