An Orthodox rabbi from Crown Heights was fatally shot as he walked to a temple in Miami. Hasidic Rabbi Joseph Raksin, 60, was visiting his daughter and grandchildren in Florida when he was shot by two men around 9 a.m. Saturday morning. A Miami-Dade police spokesperson said there was no indication it was a hate crime, but Raksin's daughter said she disagreed: "I believe it was a hate crime," Shully Lepokovski told WSVN, "simply because he was a Jew."
"He came for a week's vacation," she added. "He was going to be here a few days, then go to West Palm [Beach] to my other sister." Police say one of the suspects was on foot and the other was on a bicycle. A good Samaritan said he ran out to help Raksin after hearing the gunshot. "I talked a little bit to him; he gave me his name, that he was from New York," Jean Louis Denis told WSVN, "and he told me that two males were the people that did this."
The Miami Herald describes it as a "likely random robbery attempt," and the local community is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. "Currently no evidence has been brought to light that it was motivated by anti-Semitism," said Hava Holzhauer, the Anti-Defamation League Florida Regional Director. "This is a terrible tragedy. While the motivation for this crime is still being investigated, nothing can justify the killing of an innocent man walking to his place of worship to pray on his holy day.”
Rabbi Moshe Druin also disputes the robbery angle because Orthodox Jews don't carry any money or possession on the Sabbath. "There hasn’t been a robbery on Sabbath for the past 35 years," Druin said. He added that police reported that swastikas were spray-painted on the front pillars of a Northeast Miami-Dade synagogue the week before the shooting.