People wiped tears from their eyes as a sign was unveiled Sunday on the corner of Avenue J and Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush, where a ger tzedek was brutally murdered three years ago. The sign renamed the street “Yoseph Robinson Avenue.”
Family members, elected officials and friends were present as the major Brooklyn thoroughfare was named for Robinson, Hy”d, a man who was remembered as a bridge builder between the African-American culture he was born into and Orthodox Judaism, which he embraced in his final decade of life.
“I’m so proud of my brother today,” Robinson’s sister said. “It means a lot to us. It’s like a bridge together, everybody coming together, the Jewish community with us. We are excited to be part of this.”
The Jamaican immigrant, 34 at the time of his petirah, was working in August 2010 at MB Vineyards, a kosher liquor store located on Avenue J and Nostrand Avenue, when his kallah, Lahavah Wallace, came to visit.
As the two were talking, a masked man, Eion Klass, walked in brandishing a gun and demanded that Wallace turn over her jewelry. When Robinson tried to protect her by grabbing the gun, Klass shot and killed him.
In January, Klass, who had a previous criminal record, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Wallace urged City Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Midwood Democrat, to honor her chassan’s memory with a street sign.
Williams sponsored the bill in the City Council, enabling Sunday’s ceremony, which was also attended by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, state Sen. Simcha Felder, Councilman David Greenfield, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and councilman candidate Chaim Deutsch.
“Yoseph died a hero,” Williams said. “I’m hoping that the street sign serves as a reminder of that.”