It was Saturday morning when 60-year-old Rabbi Joseph Raksin was gunned down on his way to synagogue in Miami. The father of six was a Crown Heights native and was in Florida to visit one of his children. His family in Brooklyn is distraught.
"He was a great man. Very sweet. He was always very kind. He did his thing, didn't bother anybody and that's why it's so hurtful when such a thing happens," says son-in-law Rabbi Leib Ezagui.
The Miami-Dade police say at this point the attack on Raksin appears to be a robbery gone bad and not a hate crime.
They are searching for two alleged assailants and the investigation is ongoing.
Raksin's family says they think anti-Semitism is to blame, especially after a swastika was found on a nearby Miami synagogue.
"There's a lot of anti-Semitism going on—in that community, especially. Especially what happened with the synagogue there a few days ago. There's robberies all the time that are targeted to the Jewish homes," Ezagui says.
Raksin's extended family and friends around Crown Heights are also in mourning. The Rabbi often prayed at this synagogue on Lefferts Boulevard. His former Yeshiva classmates who stayed close with him over the years remember him for his uncommon kindness.
"He was a very dear person, a very special person, someone who wouldn't hurt a fly. A very learned person, always came to learn Torah. Just very, very, very special. My heart is broken," says Eli Blachmen, Raksin's Yeshiva Classmate.
His whole family, his extended family, the community is really like one big large family and everyone feels it and everyone is going through it," says Reuven Witkes, another of Raksin's classmates.
As family and friends try to make sense of it all, they are sending a message to the perpetrators in Miami.
"I want justice. Immediate. Immediate justice now," Blachmen says.
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying they've been in touch with Miami police and that for now this does not appear to be a hate crime. They say they'll continue to monitor the situation.