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Shooting at Chabad Of West Boca Raton

Here is a gathering of news clippings related to this incident. Video of the incident

NY Daily News

Palm Beach Post

Fear sweeps synagogue as worshiper shot outside

A 79-year-old Century Village resident opened fire Tuesday on his former girlfriend’s boss in the breezeway of a synagogue brimming with nearly 200 Orthodox Jews celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.

After shooting his victim twice in the back, Marc Benayer fired at least one shot at random into the Chabad Weltman Synagogue west of Boca Raton, where “numerous young children were congregated in a day-care setting,” according to an arrest report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

More News and Pictures in the Extended Article

Other children on a nearby playground dived for cover as congregants “ran in all directions in fear and confusion,” the report stated.

After Benayer turned the gun on three people, a person from the temple who knew Benayer approached the gunman and stated, “My friend, don’t do this,” and forcefully took the firearm from him, the report stated.

As Benayer was taken into custody, he spontaneously uttered, “He got a restraining order against me. He is the mastermind, the engineer of my destruction. I did not want to kill him. I do not know what happened. I don’t know.”

Benayer tapped his intended victim, Jonathan Samuels, on the shoulder during the Rosh Hashana prayer service and asked him to step outside, authorities said. The two men, who had been involved in an ongoing dispute over Benayer’s ex-girlfriend, walked to the west side of the synagogue.

“The rabbi had just said in his sermon that you never know, in one moment your life can change,” said Francine Miller, who attended the service with her 13-year-old granddaughter.

Samuels, 44, of suburban Boca Raton, was in critical condition following surgery at Delray Medical Center, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera.

The sheriff’s report said a deputy asked Samuels whether he knew who shot him, and Samuels responded, “Marc Benayer. He was living with one of my employees and thinks I am responsible for his problems.”

Benayer was arrested immediately by a sheriff’s deputy who was directing traffic at a nearby synagogue, Maj. Bob Ferrell said.

Benayer, who has a concealed weapons permit, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and shooting into an occupied dwelling. He is being held without bail in the Palm Beach County Jail.

A Smith and Wesson .38 plus P revolver was found at the scene.

There was panic and pandemonium inside the synagogue as many worshipers said they feared the shooting was an act of terrorism. Tamar Zimit said she tried to break a window to get out. Stuart Kowal said his 10-year-old son, who was on the playground, dived for cover in a corrugated box.

“One second everyone is praying, and another minute it’s destroyed by some lunatic,” said Kowal, 47, of suburban Boca Raton. “You never expect this to happen in a place of worship.”

In addition to the shots that hit Samuels, a bullet struck the upper left-hand corner of a full-length tinted window on the side of the building. The glass struck a 3-year-old child, sheriff’s spokesman Paul Miller said.

The remainder of the prayer service was canceled, worshipers said.

But the shooting didn’t stop worshipers from attending a 6:30 p.m. Tashlich service, a ritual in which Jews throw rocks into the water to show they are casting away their sins, said Rabbi Moshe Rabin, one of the Chabad’s religious leaders.

“It is completely foreign for an Orthodox Jew outside Israel to be carrying a gun on the High Holidays,” Rabin said. “Our community is harmonious. People get along. The leadership is working to address this incident.”

The 15-year-old synagogue, made up of 400 families, has made its home within the Boca Hamptons Plaza on Lyons Road for the past decade.

Rosh Hashana is one of the holiest days of the Jewish religion. No work is permitted and much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the daily liturgy is somewhat expanded.

Bill Gralnick, southeast regional director of the American Jewish Committee, said the holiday is a time of tremendous passion and introspection.

“You could be flip and say this is certainly not the way we’re supposed to start the new year,” Gralnick said. “You are supposed to reflect on what has gone on in the past year. If you’re dwelling on something . . . you can see how an individual might get short-circuited.”

Restraining order sought

Samuels, owner of Pompano Beach-based Profab Electronics, had been attempting to help employee Marta Pinto, 52, of Boca Raton, Benayer’s ex-girlfriend, obtain a restraining order, Miller said. She filed a domestic violence complaint against Benayer in October 2004, which a judge dismissed, according to court records.

In November 2004, she unsuccessfully tried to get a restraining order against him, Miller said. Benayer recently tried to contact her to get some belongings from the home on Boca River Circle they previously shared.

“Mr. Benayer was allegedly aware of Mr. Samuels’ assistance and was blaming him and others for his problems,” Miller said. “The rabbis and others knew of the ongoing problem and tried to intervene. It culminated today.”

Following the shooting, a wounded Samuels ran inside the synagogue and collapsed next to Lester Friedman.

“The service is very emotional. You’re celebrating and praying for a good life, and then this happens,” said Friedman, of suburban Boca Raton.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw assigned deputies to temples throughout the county to assist with security and traffic control during the Jewish High Holy Days. Chabad Weltman Synagogue had not requested deputies, Ferrell said.

“You can call it good luck or good planning that we had a deputy close enough to take the guy into custody,” Ferrell said. “I’d say it proved our reasoning to have deputies assigned to large public gatherings.”

Rabbi Zalman Bukiet, head of the Chabad, was having a bad week before Tuesday’s shooting. He smashed his car in a collision after he picked up a colleague from Miami during the weekend.

During the service, Bukiet “talked about what he was thinking during the two or three moments before you hit the wall,” Rabin said. “It’s amazing how God can change your life in a matter of moments.”

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  • 1. Shmuli wrote:

    Great job, "", in covering the story. Once again I would like to congradulate you for being the first Chabad Website to give us the News as it happens.


  • 2. dovid wrote:

    very good job i will be using your site in the future for the news of ch and the world

  • 5. Anon. wrote:

    Re: Isn’t this man a bit old for this sort of nonsense??

    I am thinking of what a rabbi answered to such a question (in this book:…)
    He was a rabbi of high school boys, and one day, a boy came in distraught. he had seen two elderly men feuding and then they even started pushing each other. Answered Reb Mendel; “from a person just eating meat and potatoes for eighty years, does not make him into a ‘mentch’ – a man, only by working on one’s character does one improve. This is a powerful lesson. Although we do understand that this man probably did not have a yeshiva background, which has a great impression on a Jew, so we should not be too worried about ourselves, but it is a great lesson.
    I hope this is taken in good light. If one reading this has a question, please leave a comment if even anonymously.


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