Community Is ‘Standing Up’ Against Religious Attacks

CROWN HEIGHTS -

Rabbi Yosef Raksin, Hy”d, of Crown Heights, visiting his daughter in Miami, shot dead on his way to shul on Shabbos morning, Aug. 9.

• A 25-year old Jewish man beaten up on Wednesday, Aug. 13 at the corner of Albany Avenue and Union Street in Crown Heights.

• Swastikas and other epithets scrawled on shuls around Brooklyn in recent weeks.

• It’s clear that the ever-simmering coals of anti-Semitism have been stirred up once again in Europe of late, but is it on the rise here in America, here in New York?

If it is — along with other religious or racial attacks — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and Barry Sugar, director of the Jewish Leadership Council, want it known that, in Hikind’s words, “we’re not running, we’re standing up and fighting against it.”

The three organized a community rally on Monday evening at the Albany Avenue-Union Street corner in Crown Heights. The crowd of about 100 area residents heard from the three, as well as from other politicians and clergymen.

The shooting of Rabbi Raksin was “a shot heard around the world,” a relative of Rabbi Raksin said.

Adams, Hikind, and Sugar led a walk to the Empire Boulevard home of Rabbi Raksin, where they presented flowers to his widow as she came down the staircase leading to the living room in the home. They told her that the community was grieving with her, and was hoping that the Rabbi’s killer soon would be found and brought to justice.

“I saw the pain in her face,” Hikind later recounted to Hamodia. “I told her that Hashem should comfort her and give her strength.”

“We shouldn’t have to be gunned down in the Middle East, in the Ukraine, in Miami, in Brooklyn,” Nechama Losh, the Rabbi’s sister, told those assembled outside the house.

Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the local Jewish Community Council, earlier told the rally that there seemed to be “a rush by many law enforcement officials to dismiss such attacks as not anti-Semitic or racial. It’s true, you don’t know at first, but it’s important to leave open the possibility.”

Miami police have said they believe the attack was an attempted robbery that went deadly. This was not confirmed nor were there any arrests made by press time.

Rev. Terry Lee recounted that on Tuesday night, Aug. 5, he was just returning, ironically enough, from the National Night Out Against Crime gathering at the 71st precinct in Crown Heights when he received a call that a fire had been set at his Byways and Hedges Church on Utica Avenue. “Thankfully the fire department came on time” to save the building, he said.

Such an attack on any house of worship is abhorrent, the clergyman added. “If you burn one, you burn them all,” he said.

A representative of the United American Turkish Association struck a similar chord, stressing that an attack on any religious institution or individual is the “greatest crime.”

Adams concurred. “Houses of worship are sacred in America, in Brooklyn,” he said.

The politicians and community leaders at the rally and walk stressed that the people who came out Monday evening were a diverse crowd of different religions, races, and nationalities.

“I’m not the president of Borough Park, or of Crown Heights, or of Canarsie — I’m the president of Brooklyn,” Adams said. “We’re a proud borough of 2.8 million people. We are all outraged at these attacks. We are united as one borough.”

Hikind told Hamodia on Tuesday that the main purpose of the rally was to “raise attention to the concerns of the community,” and that this was accomplished.

“With Hashem’s help, you do what you have to do,” he said.