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The Baltimore Sun

Eliyahu Federman: Was rabbi's murder in Miami a hate crime?

An Orthodox rabbi, Joseph Raksin, was murdered in cold blood, while walking to Temple Saturday morning in North Miami Beach. The police indicate that two young men confronted the rabbi and shot him following an altercation. But, at least one witness alleges that the rabbi was immediately shot by one of the suspects.

The perpetrators are still at large. The community is offering a $50,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. Rabbi Raksin is survived by his wife and seven children.

Although the Anti-Defamation League believes the shooting was a result of a robbery gone bad, and police indicate that there is no evidence of a hate crime, some in the Orthodox Jewish community suspect otherwise, given the spate of recent anti-Semitic vandalisms in that area and climate of anti-Semitism around the world.

Suspicions that there may be anti-Semitic motivations to this crime are well warranted. A synagogue in the area of the shooting was chillingly spray painted with a swastika and the word "Hamas" on July 28, along with other recent acts of anti-Semitism in Miami.

Around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise, "ranging from violent attacks to chants of 'Deaths to the Jews' at anti-Israel demonstrations."

It is also noteworthy that Orthodox Jews don't carry money or valuables on Saturday. One community member noted that because possessions aren't carried on Saturday, "there hasn't been a robbery on Sabbath for the past 35 years." It may have been a coincidence that the perpetrators were unaware of this, but given the timing and circumstances, it's reasonable to believe there may have been anti-Semitic motives to this crime.

Regardless of whether the perpetrators targeted Rabbi Raksin because he was Jewish or because they were looking to rob someone, the Jewish community's fear and hyper vigilance is warranted and understandable. After all, an innocent Jewish man on his way to pray, in a community already victim to anti-Semitism, was gunned down in a senseless act of murder.

Eliyahu Federman is a member of the Miami Orthodox Jewish community. He has written for Forbes, USA Today, Fox News, Huffington Post and elsewhere on issues affecting the Jewish community.

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