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Reb Yisroel Shemtov Recounts ‘Red Devil’ Days

Speaking to a rapt audience at Chabad of West Pasco, Florida, Reb Yisroel Shemtov, a veteran and activist member of the Crown Heights community, recounted the days when he would patrol the crime-ridden streets of the neighborhood, which earned him the nickname “Red Devil.”

Reb Yisroel spoke about Ahavas Yisroel, and about putting others ahead of oneself.

He said that after he got a Bracha from the Rebbe about his patrolling activities, he had no fear of anything. He was arrested 19 times with zero convictions, and many miracles happened to him over the years.

He spoke to the people about doing more good deeds, and the crowd was very moved by his story. Especially moving was the incident he recounted about when he saved an African-American woman from bleeding to death on the streets from severe gunshot wounds.

Following his presentation, a short film was shown about him and the Crown Heights community.


  • 1. A Hero wrote:

    I remember walking home in 1991 somewhat afraid at 2am and a car cruised up and stopped next to me, reb yisrael rolled down the window and insisted on driving me home. 25 years have passed since then, but i never forgot it

  • 2. yossi wrote:

    Reb Yisroel. always ready to help. Literally would give the shirt off his back.
    May Hashem bentsch him with true Gefen and arichas yomim!

  • 3. Ch’er wrote:

    Controversial & political. Butpush all those aside RYS is one hell of a guy. There when no one else is. Doing things others shy away from. Always wondered why he never ran for official position in CH.

    May he be blessed with all happiness tranquilities and health. Biz a hindret tzvantzik.

  • 6. Ed Greenberg wrote:

    Over 50 years ago, a group of Jews patrolled Crown Heights. They were the Zelbschutz (Self Help) or Macabees. We lived at 728 Montgomery St, and we went to the Young Israel. Rabbi Shraaga next door asked my father if he knew anything about radios. The Macabees equipped cars with CB radios, and had a storefront on Albany Avenue across from Key Food as a headquarters.

    The men would patrol Crown Heights each evening, driving people home from the subway, calling in suspicious activity to the headquarters, which would call the police.

    I was 8.

  • 8. BIG Heart wrote:

    A true chosid. He goes out of his way to help jews he dosen’t even know.He is almost 80 but walks around like he’s 30.

  • 9. yossel wrote:

    Yes, he was loud and vocal. But Izzy did a lot of good things for people in the community. May he have arichas yomim and lots of nachas from his children and grandchildren!

  • 10. Perspective wrote:

    I remember walking home a few weeks ago on Shabbos with a visitor to the neighborhood who is not Chabad. He holds by the eruv and thus was walking with his child in a stroller as well as other young children.

    When this “special yid” saw him he began to shriek and belittle this father, frightening his children and seriously making a fool of himself. Calling this young father worse than hitler and repeatedly yelling auchwitz. Shemtov not only made a fool of himself, scared young children but made a really bad impression on this visitor. Shame.

    Take him off the streets! he roams like a street dog looking for fights.

  • 11. meir rhodes wrote:

    i rode with the RED DEVIL during those hot summer nites in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s! what a chaverman! he made superman look like a girl scout! a serious risk taker who dived into danger only for the sake of the rebbe’s neighborhood! yes , a bissel nuts but for a great cause!


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