Miami rabbi shot dead on his way to synagogue

Joseph Raksin, 60, attacked by two men in the street; police say no indication it was a hate crime

Illustrative crime image via Shutterstock
Illustrative crime image via Shutterstock

An Orthodox rabbi was shot dead in the street in North Miami Beach on Saturday morning.

Police said Joseph Raksin, 60, was on his way to synagogue when he was approached by two men and shot, NBC reported.

The rabbi was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

One of the suspects fled on a bike while the other one took off on foot, police said.

According to the NBC report, police did not have a good description of the shooters.

While police said there was no indication that the attack was a hate crime, in late July a swastika was spray-painted, along with the word “Hamas,” on the wall of a synagogue down the block from where Raksin was shot.

Two days earlier, two cars outside a house in Miami Beach were smeared with eggs and cream cheese, spelling out the words “Hamas” and “Jew,” NBC reported.

The month-long war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has seen a rash of anti-Israel protests the world over, as well as a rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

The Anti-Defamation League said it was “shocked and horrified” by the killing.

“ADL has been in close contact with the lead investigators on this case from the Miami-Dade Police Department,” the organization said in a statement early Sunday. “We have every confidence that law enforcement will use all the tools at their disposal to find the perpetrators of this heinous act.”

The ADL’s regional director in Florida, Hava Holzhauer, said that contrary to speculation, the killing “appears to be a robbery that went badly. Currently no evidence has been brought to light that it was motivated by anti-Semitism.

“While our community is on high alert due to recent anti-Semitic incidents that have coincided with hostilities in the Middle East, we must be careful not to assume this was a hate-motivated crime unless or until such information is discovered and released by law enforcement.”

Yona Lunger, a local Jewish community activist and member of a neighborhood watch group, told the Miami Herald that Raksin was from Brooklyn and was in Florida to visit relatives.

AP contributed to this report.

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