Orthodox Rabbi Joseph Raksin was murdered in cold blood while walking to temple Saturday morning in North Miami Beach. The rabbi was walking when two young men confronted him, and following an altercation he was shot, according to the police. The suspects are still at large.
He is survived by his wife and six children. Although the Anti-Defamation League believes the shooting was a result of a robbery gone bad and police indicate that there is no evidence of a hate crime, some in the Orthodox Jewish community suspect otherwise given the spate of recent anti-Semitic incidences in that area and the climate of anti-Semitism around the world.
Suspicions that there may be anti-Semitic motivations to this crime are well warranted. A synagogue in the area of the shooting was chillingly spray painted with a swastika and the word “Hamas” on July 28, along with other recent acts of anti-Semitism in Miami. Around the world anti-Semitism is on the rise, ranging from violent attacks to chants of death to the Jews at anti-Israel demonstrations.
It is also noteworthy that Orthodox Jews don’t carry money or valuables on Saturday. One community member noted that because possessions aren’t carried on Saturday, there hasn’t been a robbery on a Sabbath for the past 35 years. It may have been a coincidence that the perpetrators were unaware of this, but given the timing and circumstances it’s reasonable to believe there may have been anti-Semitic motives in this crime.
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Regardless of whether the perpetrators targeted Rabbi Raksin because he was Jewish or because they were looking to rob someone, the Jewish community’s fear and hyper vigilance is warranted and understandable. After all, an innocent Jewish man on his way to pray, in a community already victim to anti-Semitism, was gunned down in a senseless act of murder.
Eliyahu Federman, Miami