Exactly 25 years after a young Australian Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinic student was stabbed to death on a Brooklyn street for the crime of being Jewish, his brother, Professor Norman Rosenbaum returns to the site to recite prayers marking the attack.
Rosenbaum is to attend private memorial prayers at the scene of the attack on his brother, Yankel Rosenbaum, at 10 am Friday (Aug. 19) at Brooklyn Avenue and President Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Earlier this week the professor reunited with Carmel Cato ahead of the event to denounce violence of all forms, and to discuss healing between the two communities.
Cato’s son Gavin, 7, was struck and killed in 1991 while fixing his bike, by a car driven by a Jewish man that careened on to the sidewalk after being hit by a bus. His cousin Angela, also 7, was injured but survived.
The accident sparked three days of rioting in Crown Heights, between August 19-21. In less than an hour, mobs roamed through the streets, egged on by screaming anti-Semites who coined the battle cry, ‘No Justice, No Peace.’
Yankel Rosenbaum was the first casualty; an Italian man who was mistaken because he “looked like a Jew” was hauled out of his car next and beaten within an inch of his life. A bearded family man was chased down the street and into his apartment building, up the stairs and trapped against a wall, where he too was beaten by a mob, because he was a Jew. Gangs roamed the streets of Crown Heights for three days, until finally police were allowed to rein in the chaos.
But those who lived in the neighborhood have never forgotten the rage and fear that gripped the streets. Leaders of every community in the neighborhood were summoned to the office of then-Borough President Howard Golden to form what later became the Crown Heights Coalition, led by Rabbi Shea Hecht and Dr. Edison O. Jackson. The group spent 10 years reaching out to all members of all communities in the neighborhood, sharing each others’ culture codes and building bridges where lines of communication didn’t exist.
The effort paid off with increased funding for community projects and a new look for the neighborhood, community leaders more committed to mutual efforts where city hall is concerned and better cooperation with the NYPD.
“Things aren’t perfect,” said Chana L., a Jewish Crown Heights resident who spoke with JewishPress.com late Thursday night, “but the situation is better than it was. Our hope is to build on that and keep improving from there.”
Hana Levi Julian