Funeral held for Brooklyn rabbi shot during apparent robbery attempt in Miami

BOROUGH PARK (WABC) -- Family and friends gathered in Brooklyn Monday to bid a final farewell to an Orthodox rabbi who was shot and killed in Florida.

Hundreds of mourners turned out at the funeral procession for Joseph Raksin, who was visiting his daughter in Miami when two men approached the 60-year-old Saturday morning and shot him in what is believed to be a robbery gone wrong.

Still, the victim's family wants the incident investigated as a hate crime, noting that Raksin would not have been carrying money on the Sabbath. They felt that people in the neighborhood where he was killed would have known that, so they believe he was targeted for his faith.

"For him to be taken in this way is really horrendous, and I look and search myself for the meaning," friend Rabbi Shea Hecht said.

Police have not revealed a possible motive, but are asking for the public's help.

"I could assure you that the Miami-Dade Police Department is utilizing all of its resources to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime," Miami-Dade police chief Alfredo Ramirez said.

Raksin made his home in Borough Park, where he worshipped and was well known in the community. A large crowd surrounded the hearse on a blocked-off street as it pulled up outside the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Raksin was described as a peace-loving man.

According to police, he was walking to temple when he was confronted by two individuals, and a struggle and gunfire followed.

Relatives say the suspects would not have had to take anything from Raksin because he gladly would have given them whatever they wanted.

"He was a very quiet person," nephew Menachem Katz said. "He would never, if someone came and said give me your money, he would say take it, take everything you want, take my jacket, take everything, check my pockets. He would never run. He wasn't that type of person."

Police are looking for two suspects, one of whom was riding a bicycle. The other suspect ran away on foot. "I talked a little bit to him, he gave me his name, that he was from New York and he told me that two males were the people who did this," said area resident Jon Denis.

"To be just targeted in the street and murdered in cold blood is horrible, it's just horrible," said brother-in-law Isaac Neworth.

At the funeral services in Brooklyn, there was a deep feeling of sorrow and loss among family and friends.

"He would take our religious ideals and bring them to life because that's what he lived," said Neworth.

But in the Miami neighborhood where Rabbi Raksin was walking to synagogue, others point out there have been recent signs of hate. They wonder if Rabbi Raksin was targeted.

"We are feeling that until we can bring these killers to justice and find out what the true motive is, no one should assume any motive," said Rabbi Yehuda Kaploun, a North Miami Beach resident.

The body was flown from Miami back to Brooklyn late Sunday night.

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