“My Father Was Killed in a Hate Crime”

Shuly Labkowsi, the daughter of Reb Yosef Raksin HYD, spoke out on Motzai Shabbos, calling the murder of her father a hate crime and demanded that police investigate it as such.


A short walk to temple on the Sabbath ended in tragedy for a rabbi visiting South Florida when, police said, two men shot and killed the religious leader in broad daylight, triggering outrage and calls for justice from the local Jewish community and concerned neighbors alike.

A shell casing and crime scene tape marked the area where, police said, 60-year-old Joseph Raksin was shot. According to investigators, the rabbi was walking along Northeast 175th Street and Eighth Court around 9 a.m. on Saturday when two men approached him. Police said an altercation ensued, and one of the men pulled out a gun and shot the rabbi.

An area resident said his son heard the gunshot. “He told the detectives he thought he heard one shot,” said Louis. “[He] didn’t see anything.”

Police said the subjects fled the scene, one on foot and the other one on a bicycle.

Good Samaritan Jean Louis Denis said he ran out to help Raksin as soon as he heard the gunshot. “I talked a little bit to him; he gave me his name, that he was from New York,” he said, “and he told me that two males were the people that did this.”

Raksin was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

Police said Raksin was heading to Bais Menachem Chabad, a synagogue located a few blocks away, on the Sabbath, a day of religious observance for the Jewish Orthodox community.

The rabbi, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., was in town visiting his daughter and grandchildren, who live in the neighborhood. “He came just for a vacation, just came Thursday night,” said Raksin’s daughter, Shully Lepokovski. “He came for a week’s vacation. He was going to be here a few days, then go to West Palm [Beach] to my other sister.”

For Miami-Dade’s Jewish community, the shooting marked a disturbing and heartbreaking start to Sabbath. “This has a big effect in the community,” said Joseph Waks, a friend of Raksin and his family. “A rabbi [shot] walking to temple. I’ve got two beautiful children. I walk to temple with them every Sabbath in Miami Beach. It’s devastating.”

“That’s unfortunate. It’s very sad to hear it,” said Rich, who lives near the scene of the shooting. “That’s about the most extreme thing that’s happened in the 10 years I’ve been here.”

Denis said he is saddened by the tragic outcome. “The neighborhood [is comprised of] really nice people, and I feel very, very sad that something can happen here and to people who are nice and peaceful people.”

Miami-Dade Police said the shooting does not appear to be a hate crime. However, Lepokovski vehemently disagreed with the investigators’ assessment, indicating local law enforcement has been unable to keep her neighborhood safe. “They’re not taking care of this neighborhood as much as other places, and it has to stop. It really has to stop,” said Shully Lepokovski.

Raksin’s daughter said she believes her father was targeted because of his religious affiliation. “I believe it was a hate crime,” said Lepokovski. “[He was killed] simply because he’s a Jew.”

A witness described the suspects as younger looking men, one wearing an orange shirt and the other a yellow shirt. “They do not care about the lives of other people,” said Lepokovski.

The Anti-Defamation League of Florida issued a statement expressing their condolences. It reads: “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.”

ADL officials said they trust the Miami-Dade Police Department, and they hope they’re able to find the men responsible for Raksin’s shooting.

“There’s a really dark world out there,” said Waks. “Lighting a candle can really do a tremendous amount of good, and that’s what we are going to do in his memory and, G-d willing, we’re going to try and spread the love.”

As of Sunday night, the suspects remained at large.

If you have any information on this shooting, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.

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  • 1. Eli G wrote:

    If a Jew is mugged by gunpoint & targeted solely because he’s a Jew is it not a hate crime?

    • 2. Milhouse wrote:

      How do you know that is what happened? It’s pure speculation.

      But in any case, what difference does it make? A murder is a murder, and it’s not going to be investigated any differently depending on the motivation.

    • 3. LEE wrote:

      All know that religious Jews don’t carry any money on Shabos so every infantile understands that it’s a hate crime or acceptance in one of the gangs .

      The police does nothing they are stupid and Incompetent and the crime is sky high.

    • 4. Milhouse wrote:

      No, “all” don’t know that Jews don’t carry money on Shabbos. How would they know?

  • 5. in his memory wrote:

    Rabbi Raksin was killed around 9 AM walking to shul on Shabbos to a shul that started at 9:30. In his memory, more Jewish males should walk to shul early on Shabbos.

  • 7. Anonymous wrote:

    Except he wasn’t mugged, and the nurderers just walked up to him, shot him, and walked off… And it was at 9am, broad daylight, with people walking around

  • 8. Milhouse wrote:

    What difference does it make whether the crime was motivated by hatred or by something else? It’s the same crime either way. Murder is always treated seriously; deciding (without any evidence) that it was motivated by antisemitism isn’t going to change anything, so why do so? Whether a crime is a “hate crimes” is only relevant at sentencing; first catch the people, try them, and convict them, then worry about what sentence to give them. In any case, a murderer isn’t going to get an easier sentence just because he wasn’t motivated by hatred.

    • 9. NMB resident wrote:

      It’s VERY important to speak up and say things how they are. We are not gonna shut up and stay idle pretending nothing happened. It’s not speculation, just a couple weeks ago a shul was vandalized on the same street he was shot. Everyone knows we don’t have money or carry anything on shabbos. Why approach an older man just because? You don’t live here. Shut up.

    • 10. me wrote:

      It’s not the same crime. Hate crimes are treated differently from the investigation to the punishment if suspects are caught and found guilty.

      Politicians have significantly more pressure to solve a hate crime than a random murder.

      The suspect has additional charges are more strict punishment guidelines, so nothing is the same when contrasting random murder vs murder by way of hate crime.

    • 11. Yanki wrote:

      You probably are unaware what is happening here.

      Police have been slow on their aggressiveness, and labeling it a hate crime is to bring up the urgency of the matter.

    • 12. Milhouse wrote:

      “me”,. you are wrong. There is no additional charge for a “hate crime”. Hating anyone is not a crime at all. A “hate crime” is just an ordinary crime that happened to be motivated by hatred; that only becomes relevant at sentencing . In the case of murder it’s going to be investigated seriously anyway; how can speculation about the motive make the investigation more serious?

      And yes, it is pure speculation. What makes you think the vandalism a few weeks ago had anything to do with it? Were the vandals the same people as the murderers? You have no idea. You are just guessing wildly. And no, everyone does not know we don’t carry money on Shabbos. How would they know that? Do you think they study halocho?

  • 13. Levy wrote:

    If the Miami police catch the perps do you think Milhouse will give them credit or ridicule as he gives NYPD?

    • 14. Milhouse wrote:

      If they catch them, they’re only doing their job. It doesn’t mean they’re not thugs and bullies, just like cops everywhere.

  • 15. Ma Rabbi wrote:

    It was clearly a hate crime.
    The two murderers were black.
    This should be mentioned in your story as well.

    • 16. Milhouse wrote:

      How is it “clear” what motivated the crime? It’s not clear at all, and won’t be clear until and unless the murderers are caught. Until then we can only guess, and what’s the point of that? Until they’re sentenced, it makes no difference why they did it.

    • 17. crown heights resident wrote:

      you are much too quick to jump to conclusions. Let the police do their job.

  • 18. noway wrote:

    The witnesses said there was an argument.

    There is not yet enough information to know why he was shot. Since the man was visiting, it’s likely that his killers did not know him personally. So, it could have been a robbery gone wrong, or an argument, or Jew hunting. One day we’ll know.

    The race of the murderers has no relevance at all, except in trying to identify them. If someone’s claiming antisemitism as the cause then the perp is more likely to be white (no black nazis).

    • 19. nina wrote:

      Really??? Do you not know that over 60% of the prisoners in American Prisons are black Muslims??? So if this was reverse it would definitely be called a hate crime from the get-go! . Remember Trevon Martin??? Zimmerman was proven innocent yet they still say it was a hate crime. How is this different?

    • 20. Milhouse wrote:

      What planet did you come from, “noway”? Antrisemitism is far more common among blacks than among whites.

  • 21. bar wrote:

    i was sickened when i heard the news. i can’t even imagine how they will find these 2 people. if they do they should get life sentences. people like this are just plain animals and should be out of society. you don’t have to like people so just stay away from things you don’t like and travel with people that you have something in common with. sick sick

  • 23. chana wrote:

    It would be so nice if the reporters got the Rabbis name right…
    Raksin not Raskin
    The entire first part of the video was incorrectly pronounced….
    BDE. May the family know of no more sorrow…

  • 24. Sheila wrote:

    He was attacked at 9 am…… how many crimes happen at 9 am ?????? not many…. only the ones that are planned…..

  • 25. Anonymous wrote:

    PEOPLE ANGRY, bring it to the top

  • 26. ANONYMOUS wrote:

    THEM A PEREK OR A FEW , email me
    AT : Tehillimdovid@ gmail . com
    I will allocate you a Perek to be said daily
    Hopefully the entire Tehillim will be finished
    Thank you
    We want Mishiach now

  • 27. Let's say 99% wrote:

    Suppose 99% of blacks are vicious anti-semites. What do we say about that 1%?
    What is this numbers game anyway? let all anti-semites; white,black, Europeein, African, etc. rot in Hell.
    Blacks were not the only downtrodden or disadvantaged people who Jews helped (e,g, civil-rights activism), only to have them turn on us – “bite the hand that feeds you.” What an obscenity!

  • 28. Bar Seichel wrote:

    Random killings by young punks are often not really random at all – they are gang related initiation acts to prove the prospects ‘manhood’.

  • 29. Double standerd wrote:

    To the president of these United States.

    While I don’t really believe that any one will ever read this or the President will ever see my question I still need to ask it as my heart is breaking apart.

    Mr. President, a Brooklyn Rabbi visiting his grand kids in N. Miami Beach FL was brutally shot and killed for no reason at all by two African American thugs on his way to synagogue for Saturday morning services, and not a word from you Mr. President or the white House on this Tragedy.

    Is it only its only when an African American man or teenager is killed by a WHITE person or a WHITE law enforcement officer, that they get a mention from You Mr. president?

    Why the double standard I feel this is divisive and creating a great divide in our great country.


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