On Wednesday morning, February 10, at about 11:00 a.m., newlywed Leiby Brikman, 25, was stabbed in the back while walking home on Empire Boulevard, near Kingston Avenue, in Crown Heights. There were no witnesses, but several stores with surveillance cameras caught on video the stabber running away, wearing a blue hoodie, knife in hand. As of Tuesday evening, the attacker had not been apprehended.
“While he was alone during the incident, he was not alone,” said Leiby’s mother, Mrs. Rivkah Brikman, co-director with her husband, Rabbi Chaim Brikman, of Chabad by the Ocean, which serves Seagate and Coney Island. “Because G-d was with him. I give thanks to G-d that my son is alive.”
Mrs. Brikman spoke at a press conference on Thursday with elected officials, including Public Advocate Letitia James; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton; New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo; and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
These officials, community activists, and Rabbi Avraham Lieder of Ahavas Chesed (who is also chaplain of Kings County Hospital), who has been at the Brikman family’s side throughout the ordeal, gathered to condemn recent violence against Jews in Crown Heights and nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods and to stand in support of the Brikmans, who say they want the stabber caught to avoid others going through what they are going through.
“My son asked, please make sure this murderer is caught, so this does not happen again,” Mrs. Rivkah Brikman said at the press conference. “He’s worried for the next person that could be hurt. I beg you, from a mother’s heart, find this murderer who had intentions to possibly kill my son.
“We were here in Crown Heights for his wedding, and now two weeks later we are here for the stabbing that happened to my son,” Mrs. Brikman said, with an inner strength and composure that moved and humbled many who saw her. Mrs. Brikman described her son Leiby as a “kindhearted, sincere individual who would not hurt a fly.”
Public Advocate Letitia James had strong words for the attacker, and urged calm among the diverse communities in Crown Heights despite the violence.
One Crown Heights resident who has been living there for over 40 years told Hamodia she wondered why Public Advocate James felt the need to urge calm ‘among the diverse communities.’ “It is not the Jews of Crown Heights who have looted, rioted, and worse, in response to an attack on their own, but followers of Al Sharpton, who need to be begged to stay calm. Let’s not pretend,” concluded the resident.
Public Advocate James praised the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) after it announced that it would pay a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the stabber.
Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, vice president of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, said at the press conference, “The Jewish community has faced ugly discrimination for thousands of years, but we continue to persevere through love and hope. Working together with Public Advocate [Letitia] James, we are confident justice will prevail.”\
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “I ask all Brooklynites to come together to support the Crown Heights community, which has been shaken by this terrible attack. Let us be vigilant against those seeking to do harm, particularly in the midst of a series of random knife-related attacks across our city, and let us do more to push forward the mental health services needed to heal those who may be at risk.”
Please say tehillim for Yehuda Leib ben Rivkah Alta.