New York City authorities have arrested a woman who police say spat on an 8-year-old Jewish boy outside a Brooklyn synagogue last week and allegedly told him and his young siblings that they should have been killed in the Holocaust.
The incident outside the Kehal Tiferes Avrohom Ziditshov Orthodox synagogue unfolded Jan. 14 after 12:30 p.m. Surveillance video released by the NYPD shows a woman, dressed in an orange hoodie, black leggings and black Uggs, marching up to a group of children in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn. When she got in front of the children — ages 2, 7 and 8 — she began to shout “anti-Jewish statements” at them, authorities said.
“Hitler should have killed you all,” the woman said, according to police. “I’ll kill you and know where you live.”
She then spit in the face of the 8-year-old boy and fled on foot, an NYPD spokesperson told The Washington Post.
Darling did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. It’s unclear whether she has an attorney.
The antisemitic attack sparked outrage in the community and calls to bring the woman to justice. The incident happened a day before Jewish people were taken hostage at a Texas synagogue during Sabbath services.
Aryah Fried, the children’s father, told CBS New York that his kids remained rattled after Darling, whom they had not seen before, approached them while they were playing outside the synagogue.
“I would hope that she understands the severity of what she did,” Fried said. “To do it to anybody is obviously problematic, but for an adult to do it to a child is just beyond crazy.”
The New York incident is the latest in a series of attacks on Jews in the United States over the last year. In 2021, an increase in anti-Jewish attacks was linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and it increased pressure on lawmakers, law enforcement and the Biden administration to take more steps to quell antisemitic violence. Several prominent U.S. Jewish organizations appealed to the White House to do more last year after Jews in New York City, Los Angeles and South Florida were physically or verbally assaulted by individuals claiming to support the cause of the Palestinians when fighting erupted in Israel and Gaza.
The Anti-Defamation League has reported at least nine instances of antisemitism across the United States at the start of 2022, with most of the early incidents coming from New York, California and Texas.
In a case that made international headlines, Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, took hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Tex., last Saturday. Akram, who was fatally shot by FBI agents, apparently thought the Jewish worshipers assembled for the Sabbath could get authorities to release Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year sentence in federal prison in Fort Worth for trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. At least one witness has said he drew on centuries-old antisemitic tropes and conspiracies that Jews secretly control the moves of politicians and manipulate world events to their advantage.
The hostages escaped after an 11-hour standoff.
In describing his children’s encounter with Darling outside the Brooklyn synagogue last week, Fried told News 12 Bronx that his 8-year-old son engaged with the woman as she began to walk away.
“My son responded that I’ll save my little sister,” Fried said. “He’s obviously got a little spunk to him.”
The boy’s response is what allegedly caused Darling to walk back to the group and spit on him. Surveillance video obtained by The Post shows the woman rushing back to the young children. After she spat on the 8-year-old, Darling told the children, “I’ll make sure we get you all,” the father said to the TV station.
Fried said he was thankful that a neighbor saw the whole thing happen.
“[He] said that she actually looked like she would have done more, but she saw him and stopped,” the father told News 12 Bronx.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident, police said.
Before Darling was arrested, neighbors put up posters around the area in recent days in the hope of locating the woman involved in the incident. One neighbor told CBS New York that the woman in the attack was the kind of person she would have taught her children to look to for help in situations where they felt unsafe. That has now changed, she said.
“This woman looks like a person that might have been a safe-looking person for the kids,” she told the station. “So, what do we tell them now?”