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Chabad in the crosshairs
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Chabad in the crosshairs

Over the years, the popular outreach group has often been a target of hate

The community responds with a show of affection to vandalism at Chabad Jewish Community Center of Flagstaff, Ariz. KNAU Public Radio via Facebook
The community responds with a show of affection to vandalism at Chabad Jewish Community Center of Flagstaff, Ariz. KNAU Public Radio via Facebook

Easily identified as Jews because of their distinctive garb and well-known because of their presence around the world, members of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic sect are often the public face of Judaism. And they — and their institutions — are frequently the targets of anti-Semitic attacks.

From the infamous 1991 Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn’s racially mixed neighborhood, to last week’s fatal incident at a Chabad House near San Diego, the outreach-oriented organization is increasingly in the news as much for its status as a target as for its embrace of non-Orthodox Jews.

Here are some attacks on Lubavitch Jews and their sites in recent decades:

1991 – Yankel Rosenbaum, a university student from Australia, is fatally stabbed at the start of the Crown Heights riots, a three-day uprising that begins when a car in the convoy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe accidentally strikes and kills 8-year-old Gavin Cato, the son of Guyanese immigrants.

1994 – Lebanese native Rashid Baz shoots at a van on the Brooklyn Bridge carrying 15 young Lubavitch students. Three are injured, and one, 16-year-old Ari Halberstam, dies of his wounds.

Chabad House in Mumbai after it was attacked in 2008.

2008 – During an Islamist attack on several sites in Mumbai, India, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg are taken hostage and fatally shot in their Chabad House. Their 2-year-old son Moshe is protected by his nanny, Sandra Samuel.

2008 – Two men shout anti-Semitic epithets at Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal in Berlin and throw a lighted object at his van.

2013 – Chabad emissary Rabbi Ovadia Isakov is critically wounded in a shooting attack near his home in Derbent, Russia. He is airlifted to a hospital in Israel, where he recuperates.

2014 – An apparently mentally disturbed man reportedly screams “I want to kill Jews,” and stabs a 22-year-old Israeli student in the Lubavitch “770” Crown Heights headquarters.

2014 – A Chabad rabbi and his wife are violently assaulted in their home in Nairobi, Kenya. The couple, Shmuel and Chaya Notik, run a Jewish center for travelers.

In 2014 a student was stabbed at Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Wikimedia Commons
Chaya and Rabbi Shmuel Notik, pictured with their children, were violently attacked in their home in Nairobi, Kenya. Facebook via jns.org

2019 – Two members of the Lubavitch community are attacked on the streets of Crown Heights.

2019 – A window is smashed on Shabbat at the Chabad of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

2019 – Swastikas are painted on the window and scrawled on the walls of a new Chabad building in Flagstaff, Ariz.

2019 – One worshipper, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, is killed, and three are injured, including Brooklyn native Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, in a shooting on the last day of Passover at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, Calif.

Steve Lipman is a staff writer for The New York Jewish Week, NJJN’s sister publication. He can be contacted at steve@jewishweek.org.

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