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Rabbi Gunned Down in Miami on His Way to Synagogue. Was the Shooting a Hate Crime?


"[He was killed] simply because he's a Jew."

Joseph Raksin. (Image via WFOR-TV)

A 60-year-old rabbi was gunned down in broad daylight in a major American city near the scene of a recent anti-Semitic vandalism. Was he murdered because he was Jewish?

Rabbi Joseph Raksin was shot around 9 a.m. Saturday, WFOR-TV reported, as he was on his way to temple. He died soon afterwards.

Joseph Raksin. (Image via WFOR-TV) Joseph Raksin. (Image via WFOR-TV)

The shooting occurred a mere block away from Congregation Torah Ve’emunah, the synagogue that was vandalized last month with a swastika and the word "Hamas," leading some to speculate that the shooting was religiously motivated.

But the police say there doesn't seem to be a connection.

As WSVN-TV reported:

Miami-Dade Police said the shooting does not appear to be a hate crime. However, [Raksin's daughter Shully] 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 Lepokovski.

Raksin's daughter said she believes her father [who was visiting her from New York] 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."

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

WSVN also reported that the local Jewish community is offering a $50,000 reward for any information on the two men believed to be responsible for the shooting.

As of Sunday afternoon, the suspects remained at large.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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