Religious feud arsonist sentenced in New York

By Zoe Winograd, April 18, 2012

A strictly Orthodox Jewish teenager from New York has been sentenced for his role in an arson attack on a man from his community.

Shaul Spitzer, 18, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his attack on Aron Rottenberg in New Square Village in Rockland County last May. He was charged with attempted murder, attempted arson and assault, but Rockland County Court Judge William Kelly reduced the sentence from ten to seven years following a plea for leniency.

Mr Spitzer suffered third degree burns as a result of the attack, while his victim was left with scarring third degree burns across half his body. Defence lawyer Kenneth Gribetz called the sentence "fair and compassionate".

Early on the morning of May 22 2011, Mr Spitzer was waiting at Mr Rottenberg's home with a flammable rag which he lit when his victim arrived home with his father.

Before the attack Mr Rottenberg, a plumber, had controversially decided to pray at the community's nursing home synagogue instead of the more favoured synagogue of New Square's Grand Rabbi, David Twersky. Reports suggested that this was the reason behind the arson attack. In June 2011 Mr Rottenberg sued both Rabbi Twersky and Mr Spitzer. Rabbi Twersky denied any involvement in instigating the assault and eventually the lawsuit was settled for $2.3 million.

Last updated: 2:02pm, April 18 2012