Brooklyn born Yehudah Webster has studied in the University of Haifa, the Jewish Theological Seminary of the Conservative Jewish movement and Columbia University. He directs a tutoring service called B’nai Mitzvah Campaign and lives in Crown Heights. He shared the following on his Facebook page on Thursday:
I had one of the most racist and terrifying moments of my life Monday morning on the corner of my block in Crown Heights (Kingston and Eastern Parkway).
Whenever I officiate bar Mitzvah ceremonies, I rent Torah Scrolls and so often have a Torah in my apartment over the weekend, waiting to be returned on Monday. This past weekend I had a ceremony, and as per usual had to return the Torah scroll.
As I walked to my Lyft outside my apartment, a chasidic man aggressively demanded to know where I was going with the Torah, implying without a doubt that I had no business having it. Indignantly I told him to “leave me alone.” I continued my short walk to the corner to meet my Lyft, and another man approached demanding I “explain myself.”
Next thing I know a pickup truck rolled up with a dude also pestering me. I defensively made them to know I owe them no explanations and their continued demands and harassment was racist. At this point I hopped in my Lyft, thinking to myself it’s over — we’ll just drive off and this nightmare would end. Before we could leave, a Chasidic driver swerved their car in front of my Lyft, preventing us from driving away.
Chasidic undercover security seemingly materialized, yelling into their walkie talkies, “the Torah is in the backseat,” and a mob of 20-30 or so Chasidic Jews quickly surrounded the Lyft. People were filming and taking pictures, cars were honking, Lyft driver, Cynthia was protesting, I’m arguing with the chasidic security — it was complete pandemonium.
Trapped and frankly terrified I frantically called my housemate Hannah Roodman to come to the corner and vouch for me. Hannah bravely jumped right into the fray, but it was clear sides had already been taken and heels were only being dug deeper into the ground. Nothing she or I said, not my explanation that I was returning the Torah to J Levine Judaica, not Hannah’s passionate assertion that I’m a Jewish educator working to bring Torah to Jews that don’t have, would convince the mob, the chasidic security, that I had legitimate reason to have the Torah — that I wasn’t indeed stealing it as they clearly believed.
I never thought I would say this, but the NYPD saved the day. Two officers showed up, and though the situation could’ve easily continued with anti-black bias and racism, the officers immediately dismissed the claim that I “needed” to explain myself. They made the cars blocking my Lyft move out of the way, and let us go.
This was not a peaceful resolution. The chasidic Jews were clearly furious the NYPD let me go, many pictures and videos were taken of both me and my Lyft driver, and I would by lying if I didn’t say I’m a bit concerned for my safety.
That said, I will not let the forces of racism win and further divide community. I share this post not to call out my chasidic Jewish siblings, but to invite honest conversations of reflection and change.
I encourage anyone reading this to lean into the hard relationships and share this experience with others. Let’s leverage this painful moment as an opportunity for change, and not let it rest as a painful reality of our communities.
On Tuesday I humbly reached out to one of the chasidic Jews that demanded “I explain myself,” inviting him to “join me and other Jewish voices, including chasidic leaders, in a public dialogue about the dynamics that played out Monday morning as I carried the Torah.” His name ironically is also Yehudah. He unfortunately has not yet replied to my invitation. I hope he does, and I earnestly invite dialogue with anyone from the community.
I’m here, and I’m ready. I’m curious and I’m patient. B’shalom, in peace.
any story where a “true traditional jewish person” is the victim? “instant trust you believe it or you are antisemitic”
but so help you god if the story involves painting those traditional jews in any sort of negative light. then immediately the jewish supremacist views come to the spotlight.
The folks on here who don’t think racism was playing out are sorely mistaken. There are black Jews, people. Someone who is stealing a Torah wouldn’t just be walking openly in the street with it. These self appointed defenders of the Torah have no more right to hold a Torah in the street than Webster does. It’s scary to see so many of you who can’t look at the actual racism that’s in our community and only feel like victims. Take a look at yourselves.
There we go again, judging because I don’t speak like you and probably don’t look like you my terminology arrives from my cultural background……I guess you are a racist also. As for me I have no reason to lie, I answer to a higher authority. My son is very blessed and humble, because I would have wanted to exposed them to the world, he chose to find some where else to pray. It was shabbath and that was more important to him, even be shocked by their actions. I guess we will always have racist individuals like yourself. Sad
Exactly. if you see a dark skinned fellow with a Torah in broad daylight – just let him go and maybe even offer to help him. cuz whuch idiot would steal in broad daylight, right?
are you kidding me? thats not how it works.
Especially if the person carrying it looks like he picked up a bunch of colorfull shmattes cuz he thinks its purim.
Hey 239, if what you are saying is true, then what was done to your son was wrong and I feel for you. No one should every be thrown out of a shule because of the color of their skin.
However, an orthodox Jew as you are proposing to be, would have probably used the Jewish terminology – i.e. fringes, hassics, ‘starts praying and following the prayers’ does not sound like it was written by an Orthodox Jew.
This leads me to believe that your story never occurred and you in fact are the one who is the racist.
My son a few years ago went to meet a friend for morning services in Crown Heights , he could not find the place so he decided to go into 770 to pray…….A BLACK MAN WITH A Kippah, fringes, goes into 770 and picks up a Hebrew book and starts praying and following the prayers. Men looked at him as that passed by, no one asked a question, the police was called and asked him to please leave, in the middle of him praying. He explained that he just wanted to pray, he was escorted out. My son born and… Read more »
I believe this is not about black vs. white. I believe it is about conservative/reform streams vilifying orthodox jews because they differ on the question of who is a jew.
Both now and for centuries until Moshe’s time, a Jew is identified by his peyos, beard, head covering, tzitzit. The type of head covering changes over time and space, however we recognize one another to be Jews. Even centuries ago with little communication when one Jew somehow ended up in a different continent he knew how to find his brothers and they him, skin color irrelevant. Yes, unfortunately there are Jews who have removed these symbols in favour of fitting in. They are still Jews, though not recognizable. With 75% intermarriage rate in the United States, it won’t be long… Read more »
I see this from both sides as I’m in between the secular and orthodox worlds. This situation could have very easily been avoided. For Yehudah, though you may very well have been racially profiled, it doesn’t pay to be right. Not presenting as an orthodox man with an uncovered Torah, you carry culpability. No, you may not have to answer as to where you’re going, but if you’re culturally sensitive to a neighborhood like Crown Heights, you do it out of respect. Carrying and teaching Torah comes with humility. As a woman who travels through different types of orthodox neighborhoods,… Read more »
Talks against judging groups of people and then goes on to say what’s wrong with religion in general.
Keep in mind, these people are good at talking about being nice and nasty, but in the real world, they don’t touch the toenails of the nice stuff in the Frum community. They’re all talk about everyone being nasty, that’s about all they have to offer. They’re good at making noise with their mouths and keyboards. Nothing worth paying attention to.
Really??? You can walk out of a building drenched in blood and nobody has a right to inquire because it can possibly be my blood? Someone completely out of place doesn’t have to answer or explain anything? The laws that govern? How about the laws of common sense? So if someone is carrying your couch and apparently your dinette set in your building corridor you cant inquire because you didn’t see it leave your front door? Mob attacking??? Just inflaming the story to make a weak point… Perhaps the Torah scroll should be a little more precious and personal and… Read more »
Where is the video of this?
So many here are complaining about racism. The reality is: 1) He wasn’t in any danger. He may have felt in danger, but h wasn’t in any danger. 2) The hatred from the people screaming racism is appalling. The hatred leads to them attacking Chassidim on public platforms, trying to make changes in our community, and being silent when we are physically attacked. Their only desire to control the discourse and have everyone agree with them. 3) If you’re against Israel and always attacking it, you’re an anti semite. That’s for the one defending Bernie Sander, sorry he’s an anti… Read more »
how so many commentators on col lack daas torah
This is wrong on a variety of levels and the comments in this thread are equally upsetting. So how about we do a civics refresher: 1. Anyone can carry anything from their apartment to their car without fear of being harassed. Even a Torah. You know why? Because the laws that govern this land say so. 2. You cannot condemn a person EVER for how they look. Nor can you assume you EVER know a persons true community or character by the color of their skin. I am so enraged when I hear that anyone should answer for the sins… Read more »
there are jewish racists in this community and there are black anti semites in this community. it’s hard to dictate to a person how they should feel. what you can mandate is how they should act. let the black anti semites limit themselves to dirty looks instead of robberies and assaults, and eventually the dirty looks and distrust from the jewish racists will lessen. then we’ll be able to live together in proper decorum, maybe even be able to develop a genuine friendship here and there.
I assure you that most if not all of the comments that are spreading hate against our community are not from anyone currently within the community. Based on the terminology, style and in some instances the timing (written on Shabbos).
(I don’t think his Conservative conversion makes a difference to the content of the conversation (whether this was racism or not) but an comments that refer Yehudah as being Jewish or mentions Ahavas Yisroel is obviously not Orthodox Jewish themselves.)
Why did he tell everyone “none of your business” “I don’t owe explanations” – just explain politely you have borrowed it and why etc. instead of arousing suspicion #32 correct #37 he can’t be a rabbi he is not jewish. Period. #38 it’s not ahavas yisroel – he is not Jewish It’s really sad how many people on COL who I assume are associated with Lubavitch-Chabad, probably even grew up in CH, are so quick to jump on the bandwagon and ATTACK OUR COMMUNITY liberal-style. So many comments about racism etc. There are many cases of racism but this is… Read more »
“They better keep that madness on the other side of the parkway. We dont play them games over here”.
And its precisely for that reason that we suspect anyone that looks like a thug like you.
conservative “judaism” is “our religion?”
Growing up reform you probably didn’t meet too many black people, especially the kind we live with here in crown heights.
There’s nothing shocking about this story. We are racists as a community! I was raised among you. In fact in my house terrible racist terms was simply the way we referred to people of color. I am friends with a black Lubavitcher, and she just have to learn to deal with constantly being disrespected in her community.
We finally have a moment to sit down and talk about this together. The rebbe was a big proponent of ‘ahavas yisrael’ show some love for your fellow Jew.
And is making veiled threats against Hasids. The point of “looking Jewish” being hat, jacket, kipah, tzitzit, etc. has been made so many times here. Yet the same commenter (#217 etc) keeps insisting the worst of intentions to the meaning of “looks Jewish”. He obviously has a hatred and bias against Hasidic Jews (especially if you read the rest of his post and other posts). He’s doing exactly what he’s accusing the Hasids of doing. If g-d forbid some lunatic let’s out their “anger” against a Hasid, the police should investigate this person and the other threatening comments via IP… Read more »
Growing up Reform, I NEVER encountered racism. EVER. Not until I met Orthodox Jews did I realize people still discriminate against “blacks”. There may be crime in CH but there is a lot of known racism towards black people in Orthodoxland
These folks have converted al pi halacha and are treated exactly the same as everyone else in the shul.
I’m sorry to see so many comments here pole-vaulting to the conclusion that Mr. Webster’s skin color is what people mean when they say he “doesn’t look Jewish”. I’m sure a black man in a hat, jacket and tzitzis would not be described as “not looking Jewish”.
Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable around Hasidics. They seem to cause trouble to anyone not like them. Why would any black person want to live among them or join their religion. They talk about blacks but Hasidic leave huge messes when they “rent out hotels.”
Racism is not okay and there is a lesson to be learned from every incident. Even when we want to protect a Torah scroll and are suspect of an individual, we can do it in a most sensitive and non provocative way. When an unfamiliar vehicle or person turns up at our school, we always approach them and ask if everything is okay or if we can help in any way. Generally, decent people will explain why they ended up in our parking lot. it’s possible Yehuda would have reacted differently if approached with more respect and trust. I don’t… Read more »
I see a lot of comments from people who are obviously racist and sick on here. what does a “NON JEW” look like? This man does NOT owe anyone on the street an explanation as to why he is carrying anything. These people think the world owes them something. I’m appalled but I know 1 thing. They better keep that madness on the other side of the parkway. We dont play them games over here
Before describing the encounter with the first person, Yehudah takes the entire 2nd paragraph to explain to everyone on Facebook why he had the Torah. Are all his Facebook friends racists that need an explanation for why he had the Torah??? Seriously, what’s the intent with this paragraph if not to setup the reader with knowledge that the first person he encountered was not priveleged to know when he saw Yehudah? Seems to me that Yehudah himself isn’t comfortable starting the story with: “I was walking down the street with a Torah and was about to get into my Lyft… Read more »
Racism: A black man is walking down the street carrying an iPhone. He is politely questioned about his ownership of the iPhone.
Not racism: A white man is walking down the street carrying a Torah without a talis. He doesn’t look Jewish (no yamulka, tzitzit etc.). He is politely questioned about his ownership of the Torah.
Now change the second scenario from being a white man to a black man.
Are we no longer allowed to ask any questions since he is black?
Well played. Create an out of place situation and then cry racism when questioned. If you don’t give a straight answer you just blame the justified subsequent suspicion on racism.
Why aren’t there 300 comments on the story about the guy who got his head bashed in the Lobby today? Answer: The so called open minded liberals don’t really care about people. Ironic how the Communists also told my Grandfather to be more open minded and tolerant as they burnt his Shul down in the name of progressive thinking.
Absolutely. He is a political activist and according to he himself in a post-event article this happened to him once before in Manhattan while he was wearing a kippah. So by him taking up residence across the street from lubavitch headquarters (pretty competitive property I might add), not reaching out to the community at large and NOT wearing a kippah, he goes and does it again. He knew this would be a matter of time before it happened in CH.
My off the cuff opinion is yes the situation could’ve been avoided yet I’m sure some people said things they should have regrets about ! Arrogance has hurt to many people to many times! No one likes to be accused or tested ! Both sides are guilty until there’s a judgement per purkei avos! Maybe the Halacha isn’t followed everywhere how to respect a Seder Torah ! One Purim approx 10 years ago I knocked on a door with a mezuzah because I was invited to a Purim party the party was in The next block yet I noticed through… Read more »
Can you spot the prejudice?
191: “Not surprising how close-mindedness rears its head among Hasidim”
193: “Racism definitely exists in the Hasidic community”
194: “this is what he gets in the orthodox community”
196: “if he had looked different no one would stop him”
197: “asking in an *accusatory* manner”
198: “the mob that was ready to attack him”
199: “your poor education quality”
201: “people believe “looking Jewish” means looking white”
202: “demanding that the feelings, needs and experiences of white people be front and center”
I’L disregard the fine gentiles here, who we’ve included in tonight’s havdala prayer, as the following concerns our own. We are not recognizing Hashem’s message for what it is because we are gribbling at its outer-surface. Sure, shulchan aruch policy is clear about handling a Nochry Chashud, and I agree 100% the appropriate approach has been taken. But that is not what this is about. The real issue is the horrific xenophobia plaging our midst, and you all know it. Just look at your which hunts, your smear campaings, snitch hotlines, all waged by your own against your own. Even… Read more »
Sorry to bring this up, he is not a Jew, black or otherwise. He is guilty of cultural appropriation.
“Originally born as a Christian in Georgetown, Guyana, the son of a pastor, Yehudah grew up in a world driven by faith and belief, experiencing from an early age a diverse range of worship mediums. Yehudah’s Jewish journey began officially at the age of eight in South Orange, NJ, where he and his family unit converted to Judaism and became members of Congregation Oheb Shalom.”
It looks like the guy WANTED this to turn out this dramatic. “I don’t have to tell you” – hoping this turns into something exciting. In the real world, when a human being asks you a question, you answer, especially when there’s a valid understanding why explanation would be useful in this sich, a normal human being would answer and not take the “I don’t have to tell you” route. He clearly understood why this situation was special and was almost “testing” us. And even if he didn’t start off intentionally, after the 3rd person stops you, you say “Ok,… Read more »
What does it mean to “look Jewish”. I find this repeated comment perplexing.
Interesting that comments were written on shabbos. That shows where the racism complaint is coming from. Religious Jews understand how precious a torah is
Reading the racism rant over here after reading the respectful explanations of why Yehuda DID need to explain himself in this situation, it seems that liberals are literally covering their ears and yelling at the same time. Kinda like “Don’t confuse me with the facts my mind is already made up”. Yehudah and gang already decided the reaction was racist without taking the time to understand a real legitimate concern! Do they even understand the sacredness of a torah scroll?! How people would run into a burning building to save a scroll because it’s that important?
#189 Don’t call anyone a coward while being anonymous, that’s…oh wait, that’s cowardice, truly cowardice!
This entire situation was caused because an arrogant man thought he had the right to detain another man and question him without the authority to do so. It was a racist move don’t bother to say it wasn’t. You are not the police or the Gestapo you were completely out of line.Had I been the person you stopped you would be facing charges and a lawsuit. My people have been too forgiving this must change and it will.
Hundreds, literally *hundreds* of comments on here talking about how it isn’t racism, he just looks different, and she should have explained himself, and it’s all his fault for not behaving in a manner that would have been acceptable to the *CROWD* of people *literally blocking his car and harassing him*. This, right here, is racism in action. Racism isn’t just “We hate black people!”, it’s demanding that the feelings, needs and experiences of white people be front and center, and any way that a black person steps out of line is to be met with confrontation, derision and accusations.… Read more »
Many of the commentators have revealed 2 things: 1. They read Torah all day and know nothing of Teshuva. 2. That people believe “looking Jewish” means looking white, did Moshe Rabbeinu look white?” What a shanda!
Why does a black man look like a “non jew” to you or anyone?
“Yes when Jews see someone who looks like a non jew carrying a Torah the right thing to do is to stop them and ask for a explanation” Bless you, my brother.
No one owes you an “explanation” of anything other than your racism and poor education quality
These people threatened his safety. So many people on here are making egregious comments, defending the mob that was ready to attack him. Wake up and open your minds. A torah scroll could never be more important than a human life. And if they really thought he was stealing the Torah, they could have called law enforcement instead of trying to take matters it into their own hands. It seems that their attempted actions were motivated by racism, but if you take race out of the picture, that doesn’t justjfy threatening a person’s safety.
Those who say this wasn’t racism, consider that there’s a difference between asking out of curiosity and asking in an accusatory manner: what are you doing with that Torah?
Consider the presumption that this gentleman wasn’t Jewish.
This is terrible! There is no such thing as what a Jew should look like, we are all apart of one religion and we all come from different backgrounds and ethnicities. This poor man was 100% targeted because of his race and if he had looked different no one would stop him – that is racist and that is wrong. Get your head out of your ass people! Jews were once treated with ignorance and hate (still are) like Yehudah.
If it was just this one incident, then we could chalk it up to a misunderstanding, not racist. But since every black jew has story after story to tell, sorry but that doesnt wash. The people going on and on about how this cant be racist because we have so many black Jews who are so warmly accepted…. well seems you haven’t ever actually talked to one of those black Jews you claim to accept so much.
The torah says not to embarrass people. It says to love the stranger. If you don’t care what the torah actually says than what are you protecting anyway? Oh as for him being conservative you can hardly fault him if this is what he gets in the orthodox community
Racism definitely exists in the Hasidic community, and sadly in Israel as well. Just ask famous Hasidic convert musician Nissim Black. He is a black Hasidic convert and can’t even get his children into a Yeshiva and was outright told it was because they’re black. That being said….one has to understand the atmosphere in Crown Heights right now. There have been MULTIPLE brutal unprovoked physical attacks on orthodox men and boys there over the past few weeks by African Americans. Farrakhan has been ramping up his hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric again and spurring acts of violence towards Jews. So right now… Read more »
How, exactly, does a Jew “look”? There are blonde, blue eyed Jews. There are brown and black skinned Jews. This is just another stereotype. Maybe he could have recited a passage of Torah, in Hebrew. Not to mention his roommate vouched for him. But why assume he is stealing it? Sir, you are welcome to read Torah in our community, any time.
It wasn’t like he was damaging or vandalizing the Torah, he was carrying it! show some restraint, for goodness’ sake!
If you can read this and then not immediately know these people were not only racist but super racist, then your just either willfull ignorant or racist. Let’s try an experiment, how about we gather those people who confronted them and we force them the wear a star of David to demonstrate that they are a Jew. I know it’s been done but it seems like these people are advocating a return to this policy. Oh well
Not by those who engaged in chillul ha-shem by harassing another human being for absolutely no reason, but by so many of the posts here. The defensiveness, dismissiveness and cowardice is truly heartbreaking. What occurred to this person, this Jewish person, was hurtful and wrong. And while it may be understandable why the people who harassed him were confused (in the same way we can often explain what motivated someone to commit a averah), that doesn’t make it less of an averah. What they did was wrong and anyone who professes to have any concern about Jewish values should have… Read more »
Yehuda, I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for the work you do for our religion and may you never have to experience anything like this ever again. ❤
Ask any religious person unfamiliar with this story what would they do if they see the following: A man who is not dressed as a religious Jew, walking in a religious neighborhood with an uncovered Torah, going into a car.
Here are some responses I got:
1- Call 911 or community patrol
2- If there’s no one in the street I would be afraid to try to stop him cuz he can hurt me
Stop complaining about racism and try to stop the real crimes coming from one specific community
#182- How can you compare an act of hate and violence- a black man walking up to a random Jew and beating him up- to this? Get your facts straight: This man who was clearly not dressed as a religious Jew was carrying the most religious article to be had improperly. People tried to stop a very likely act of robbery. THAT is hatred?!?!?!? Seriously?!?!??? These liberals really need to get their basic math and logic skills in order. Crown heights is being attacked by liberals looking for problems when the liberals themselves are creating the problems, spreading hate and… Read more »
This is what is written about Yehudah on website prior to this incident: “Growing up in the face of white hegemony, Yehudah now facilitates workshops and speaks to audiences around the country to inspire and empower the Jewish community to commit to racial justice and make space for Jews of Color (JOC)” Yehudah avoided explaining the unfortunate but legitimate suspicions people had when seeing him walking with the Sefer Torah, he did so not naturally, but intentionally because of his activism in racial justice. He’s right, he dosen’t owe anyone an explanation, but they had legitimate concern and he should… Read more »
All of you saying that he is racist are just trying to add gas to the fire. Here in crown hights have a lot of different type of chasidim from all over the world including blacks so why would we attack a person based on where he is from or his race?
You need to stop hanging out online with progressives because you will become an extraordinarily sloppy thinker.
they will pat you so hard on the back for writing on message that you will lose touch with that inner sense of rigour you were gifted by birthright in chase of leftist upvoting in remuneration for amplifying the right narrative payrated by post and word count.
they aren’t paying you for your intelligence, but for your fervor
Recently, a white chasidishe guy was beaten up in Crown Heights by a Black man who called him a “fake Jew.” This story was taken very seriously by people in the Jewish community as a sign of rising antisemitism. Here, thirty chasidishe guys mob a Black Jewish man, effectively calling him a “fake Jew” and threatening him with violence, and all you can do is look for excuses as to why it’s justified. Where’s the kavod for G-d’s creation? Where’s the chesed in your chassidus? It’s appalling.
Q: what SHOULD people do if they suspect a person is stealing it without evidence?
A: STOP suspecting.
What do you know. .05 seconds after I posted my comment Collive posted the beautiful article about the community leaders sitting in a restaurant with the politician, supposedly fighting the recent crime
I’m appalled and shocked at the comments regarding this story. Comment #177 has the right thought on this. The man was assumed to be stealing the Torah because he didn’t ‘look Jewish.’ That’s racist towards to man and racist to Jews too.
For the people saying this isn’t a racist act, you need to check your priviledge.
Dear Good People of Crown Heights, my neighbors, my friends שיחיו “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!” If you see something suspicious, out of place, be in black, white, Hispanic, Jewish (who could be all these things, black white, Hispanic, chinese etc… because Judaism isn’t a race) etc… SAY SOMETHING!!! Don’t allow this to intimidate you into silence. Doing the right thing is never easy. The Evil inclination comes in many forms. In the first paragraph of the Shulchan Aruch (code of Jewish law) we are warned to be “bold as a leopard” means one should not be embarrassed when confronted by… Read more »
These arguments seem to hinge one point: ” a person who did not look like a Jew carrying a Torah” Why? I ask, did he not “look like a jew”. I probably “look like a jew” My biological father was a Jew, I have curly hair and a prominent noise, I’m of European ancestry. I’m not though, My mother was not jew, and I was adopted in my teens by an Irish Catholic family. If I carried a Torah through Crown Heights, I would likely not arouse any suspicion. “not Jewish looking” is code for Black, pure and simple. One… Read more »
The chadisics should’ve asked politely, an explanation should’ve been given.
We are all allowed to defend and question but, people, seriously, we’re all human. One is as good as another. Be nice, it’s simple.
Don’t you love those “good hearted” individuals who are lecturing the good people of Crown Heights about being racist and profiling, all the while profiling all the people or the general population of Crown Heights Hassidic Jews as racist? Hypocrisy much?
In addition: almost 200 comments here, anonymous comments. Yet, on the col FB page there are but a few who are brave enough to say what they have to say with their names attached.
Yehuda, when you say, “I never thought I would say this, but the NYPD saved the day” why is that? Is it because there’s some obvious tension between police and African Americans? Probably. So now let’s be honest, Jew to Jew. Yes, I will say racism is definitely a factor. Why is that? Because I’m sure you know how uncommon it is in our neighborhood for an African American to be Jewish. And we welcome you and we love you, but many of us simply don’t know you. So naturally if we see an African American (=majority of gentiles in… Read more »
White people whether acting as vigilantes or calling 911: STOP calling out black people for making their way in the world and life every minute of the day for doing all the things you do without thinking. Shop. Play music. Barbecue. Swim. Carry a Torah.
i bet he did this as a set up to cry racism, and now lets have a dialouge about it. pathetic
That’s what a Jew walking with a Torah looks like.
Regarding the article, it’s wrong for anyone to assume outright that this man was stealing sifrei Torah without the benefit of the doubt. I don’t blame them for being cautious but the way they went about it was totally wrong. That being said, the fact that he was a conservative Jew may have raised suspicions that he wasn’t Jewish at all because of his mannerisms, or style of dress Etc. We don’t know because we were not there. However, it is common for people to steal sifrei Torah because they are so valuable so the question is what SHOULD people… Read more »
“I suspect that the way the first person approached Yehudah was not polite”
That’s a prejudice statement.
Why not suspect that he was polite and Yehudah was not polite?
We simply don’t know so we cannot ascribe blame on the first guy.
Yehudah I’m the other hand has exposed himself quite clearly as being the opposite of a peace maker with his refusal to engage in a meaningful conversation WHEN IT MATTERED. Not now when he’s trying to correct course or worse yet, to spread hatred.
There’s so much easily refuted racist garbage on this forum in response to this story. Points: – He doesn’t “look Jewish.” Rubbish. An Ethiopian Jew who had been isolated from the rest of the Jewish world might think an Ashkenazi Chassidic Jew in a bekishe doesn’t “look Jewish.” Besides, we know converts exist. And you can’t tell conversion status (or its ‘validity’) just by looking at someone. Assuming someone isn’t Jewish and are stealing a Torah simply because they are Black is racist. What you really mean is he doesn’t look like you. Whiteness is not a defining feature of… Read more »
Today’s left wing agenda is generally in conflict with most major religions including Judaism.
There’s a very strong correlation between secularism and being left wing.
At best, it’s misplaced compassion. Compassion for “women’s rights” at the expense of unborn children’s rights. Compassion for terrorist “freedom fighters” etc. etc.
At worst, it’s the mask that many evildoers put on in order to silence their detractors.
#162 please don’t hate this community . around where
I live we have quite a few black jewish families .they say
gut Shabbos gut yom tov hello as do we and our children play with one another . not one ever says “ leave me
alone”. and none tries to rabble rouse . if everyone stops
a minute and actually thinks then they would realize the
first chassid made sense to question where and why
a precious torah was being transported. the so called victims response is what initiated the rest of this situation .
Don’t hate on Crown Heights
I’m very proud of the many beautiful answers given in the comments . If this person still thinks it’s racist then he’s just trying to a stir up trouble!
There are quite a few people in Crown Heights who know, that Yehudah Webster is not Halachikly Jewish. It has nothing to do with his skin color, but that he is simply not Jewish. Every Orthodox community would make the same claim, if he asked for an Aliya on Shabbos. Contrary to what it might seem like, the Chabad community in is ethnically diverse. There are Jews from every background (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, African-American, Asian, Indian, etc.), living in Crown Heights. While, he did obtain the Sefer Torah legally. It is rather uncommon to see a non-Jew carrying one,… Read more »
If he can hang around with Linda Sarsour then he does not look Jewish! It’s a soul thing…
I would like to apologize in advance if my English is not perfect. I’m French. The few comments I have read so far are so disgusting. Would anybody in CH question a white non religious guy why he is in possession of a Sefer Torah? Saying it’s not because he is blqck.or he should have explained himself is showing how racists you are. I hate this community more and more every day despite the clear order to have Ahavat Israel. Because how can I live people who hate so hard ? You need to change. All of you. The rebbe… Read more »
As I read this story, and then the comments, I became increasingly saddened. When I read of the initial encounter, I—a Jew of colour—I asked, “Why didn’t he just say, ‘I’m a Jew.’” I was further dismayed by the response of the “Chassidic security” that seemed to me somewhat hateful and over the top, and completely at odds with Torah. Then to further read some of the equally negative comments, especially the statements about persons who “don’t look like a Jew,” saddened me even more. What does a Jew look like? There is no “Jewish” look. Since the days of… Read more »
This situation could have been avoided if the gentleman would have clarified his intentions, but his consistent refusal of answering inquiry highlighted and increased suspicion. While the party don’t have to answer it would have drastically diffused it instead of escalating it.
What is the deal with the comments about you not “looking” like a Jew? So does that mean that every Jew of Color needs to wear a huge sign or shirt that says, “I’m a Jew” so they don’t harrassed. What century are we in?
So wrong to judge Hasidic Jews base on the actions of a group of people that we don’t even know that they are actually Hasidim! For all you know they could’ve been atheists! You prejudged them based on their skin color and dress. How shameful.
ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT C O L !!!
Thanks, Yehudah As a Sephardic Jew, hey and we have been jews longer than some of our brothers and sisters Eastern European, is just laughable to read their comments are negating racism when their writings demonstrate how racists they are. He was stopped due to the fact that he was black and we inside the Jewish community know that racism exists. The fact that many of the people in this chain of comments talk about ” looking jews” reflects how deepens racism runs in our community. Some members of our community have internalized Nazims in many ways when talking about… Read more »
In these comments, the language used by the people from the shchuna is direct and honest, even if at times biased. The emotionally-driven esoteric pseudo-intellectual condescension used by Yehudah in the “article” and his activist friends, who have decided to visit a frum website for the first time, employs little logic or and no room for dissent – much like the current culture in American “academia”. Don’t go for the bait. There is NO desire for dialogue here. This is what happens when reason meets emotion and encounters a grand-canyon sized divide of separation. Liberal views would not involve the… Read more »
Of course the assemblyman and our”community leaders” and the “Jewish pac” and “crown heights council” sympathize with him.
They don’t look out for the community interests, only nice photo ops with their favorite politicians.
Where are they when crime after crime happens from black people to Jews? Maybe that’s racism?
And mind you a Jew walking down the street minding his business getting attacked vs. guy taking the Jews holiest object in public… Which deserves more attention?
why would a respectable professor reply
“leave me alone”. a learned scholar as he obviously is
would know that anyone seen carrying the torah out
is questionable. in this age of high alert especially.
Please, get your facts correct. Yehudah Webster was born Christian, and his family was converted via Conservative Judaism. There are many families in the Chabad community who are Jews of Color, and are fully accepted. He is not one of them, for a very legitimate reason. According to the standards held by every Orthodox community, Yehudah Webster is not Jewish.
I’m saddened to read the vile, racist comments here. This is a Jew being suspected and surrounded because of his skin color, plain and simple. Enough racism. Enough sinat chinam and suspicion of our fellow Jews (and fellow humans.)
Putting the specific incident aside, I’m so sad to read all the comments against liberals and fellow Jews, and I wonder where all the hate expressed here came from, and how it could be that US national politics is dividing Jews from Jews. It is hateful attitudes like these that led to the vandalism of the Park Slope eruv not long ago.
For those who are insisiting that this was not a racist incident, please consider whether your definition of racism is up to date. White people commonly define racism as an act of aggression or hostility against a person because of their race (and by the way, I think this situation fits that definition too). But that definition is too narrow and does not address the systematic oppression of black people in our society. In fact, it just serves to immunize white people who act on their biases in ways that aren’t outright hostile but are still destructive. But racism is… Read more »
Its looks like he needs attention and he had it. he provoked Frums.
I remember, that about 25-30 years ago black people, with big Star of Dovid with massive chain on Times Square was proclaiming that they are Jews and descend of Abraham. He looks like them.
In response to 128, who wrote: “If you look into what he’s into, you’ll see it’s basically everything we’re against. He’s a Bernie Sanders fan, a terrible enemy of the Jewish people and Israel. Bernie, another Jew who hates and attacks his own people. And Webster likes that type of guy.” What a horrible thing to say, both about Bernie Sanders and about Yehuda. Liberalism is part of the fabric of our Torah: we are supposed to stand up for, support, and love strangers, converts, the poor, the unfortunate. You may not agree with Bernie Sanders’s politics; that doesn’t mean… Read more »
It’s not out of the ordinary to see Jews of color in Brooklyn, let alone Crown Heights. Chabad prides itself on inviting Jews back into community, and CH being a predominantly Chabad neighbourhood, I can only assume the men giving Yehudah a hard time were also Lubavitcher. You can tell if a person is Jewish by how they hold a Torah — something you can only see if you aren’t blinded by the color of their skin and the judgment you have for it. This absolute WAS racist, and those who think the fault is with Yehudah for not explaining… Read more »
You are spot on
Being a progressive, surely Mr Webster should have been wise to the problematic nature of his cultural appropriation.
They could have killed him. Its unfathomable that some people on here will justify mob violence. Blacks don’t owe you or ANYONE an explanation for ANYTHING.
It was racists pure and simple.
I’m sorry this s terrible thing happened to you we all have to be more careful in being judgmental about others. I’m in Jerusalem and would love to get together with you when I return.
I am interested to know if there is an orthodox operation that is renting scrolls to people who don’t know how to keep them.
Yehudah Webster, please proceed to do the same in other communities. Deliberately looks suspicious and see their reaction. Pick any community: black, Muslim, Hispanic, etc pick any community – do something very odd in public – which is NEVER seen – arouse tremendous suspicion and see what happens.
Do you need some examples and a film crew?
Why assume the man stole the Torah? If the Chasidim had simply walked up and engaged in. A polite conversation, they would have found out the truth, but because he was an African American they could not believe he was a Jew. Very shameful for all Jews.
After reading all the comments that “he doesn’t look Jewish,” I have but one question. What does a Jew look like? Let us remember that Judaism is a religion, not a nationality. Personally, I am 100% Ashkenazi Jewish and I look 100% Irish.
We need some truth on this post, so I will attempt to put some of it into writing. There are 4 players here – COL, Mr Weber, The Chassidic Jews & The Commentators. First to Mr. Weber, I don’t know you personally, so any judgement of you is uncalled for and baseless. Did your color play a part in your experience? Yes, absolutely. Was it intentional and could this story have been different? Yes, that too. My suspicion is that there is a preexisting feeling of being unwelcome among the multitudes of Chassidic Jews within Crown Heights which made you… Read more »
Sorry. He’s what you call a “gas lighter” passive-aggressively egging people on, and then blaming them.
The people who treated you that way are the ones who shouldn’t have a Torah, clearly they have no idea what it’s about!
Yehuda Webster, I stand with you and I am ashamed of what fellow Jews did to you. It is inexcusable, full stop. We are better than this.
To all you people saying they were right to question him, Yehuda grew up in a Jewish community. He was born Jewish. He dresses like a Jew. He sounds like a Jew. If he was white, and you saw him on the street, you’d run up to him and ask if he put tefillin on. The only reason you dare question his Jewishness is because of what him looks like. The only reason he was accosted by the mob is because they ignored his name and appearance and went straight for his skin. To all you saying, why didn’t he… Read more »
There is one thing that no one seems to notice which is that Yehudah is most probably not Jewish. It seems that he was converted conservative or reform, and he moved into a Chassidic neighborhood knowing that he will not be accepted as a Jew. He then cries out when not dressed as a Jew, and definitely not dressed as a Chassidic Jew, he is carrying a Torah, expecting no one to bat an eye. Imagine a guy innocently walking into JFK Airport holding a gun. He’s not dressed as a police officer or airport security. He’s doing a good… Read more »
Yehudah Webster is not Halachikly Jewish. He and his family were converted via the Conservative Movement. He might believe in his heart that he is Jewish, but in reality he is not. I would have loved to support him, because there are Jews of Color who are discriminated against. However, Yehudah Webster is not one of them. He is, however, a poor soul who was given the false hope of believing he is Jewish. Which is quite sad, when one thinks about it.
On the other side they attack Israel and on our side some also attack Israel. Here too, on his side everyone of them supports him, and on our side some are supporting him. I see he’s a fan of BLM. Maybe he has but I didn’t see him call them out on their anti Semitic platform. He’s a fan of anti Semite Linda Sarsour and anti Semite Bernie Sanders (yup he’s an anti Semite, let’s not be scared to call it as it is). Just another hateful anti Semitic (by the way non Jewish) rabble rouser. Keep our community safe… Read more »
This bum is looking to be a troll. We should call j Levine book store if this torah is real. Why would a book store trust this Jew hater with a torah. Something does not add up. Could be it’s a printed fake look alike torah from a conservative temple. I once ripped off one of their Mezuzah’s and saw it was a fake. It was printed.
Clearly the 2 sides here don’t see eye to eye and don’t want to. Stop trying to force your way of life and opinions on everyone. They suspected you and confronted you and they will continue to. You will continue to write badly about them as a community. I’m on the side of the Chassidim. Keep up this beautiful community and our beautiful way of life. Let the haters rage, that’s what they do. If you look into what he’s into, you’ll see it’s basically everything we’re against. He’s a Bernie Sanders fan, a terrible enemy of the Jewish people… Read more »
I’m reading this comment And like it’s unbelievable the approach that people have towards this like people saying like this community doesn’t except these type of people and this is 100% racism and it’s ridiculous the approach that people take on this
Unless he is born from a Jewish mother or underwent giyur k’halacha, he’s a non-Jew.
So stop saying if he does or does not look Jewish.
The question is, is he Jewish?
Blond hair and blue eyes don’t make you Jewish.
Black hair and black eyes don’t make you not Jewish.
Its a soul thing. And if your soul isn’t a Jewish soul then you are not Jewish, even if you have a yarmulka and tzitzis!
Plwase don’t mix the Rebbe into this in such a way. Yes the Rebbe showed care for all Humanity etc. But there was no hate here. There were Some real Jews looking out for a potential terriblr issue. Not to mention how clearly the Rebbe would [and did] disaprove of Conservative. How about Mihu Yehudi that caused the rebbe so much pain. So, no – he should not be walking around with a Sefer Torah, and he definetely shouldn’t be insulted by people who are looking out for it
Listen to the man!! What happened to Yehudah is so wrong, and what’s worse is that instead of considering the immense disrespect shown by this Hasidic patrol and thinking about how to prevent racist incidents like this in the future, the commenters have the absolute nerve to deny that racism was involved and insist that they’re the victims. Disgusting and embarrassing. This is a huge chilul Hashem.
Yehudah, you deserve so much better. I am sorry that this happened and hope I never treat anyone the way you were treated.
It’s so obvious Yehuda Webster is a ‘Hater of Truth.’ ”There is no Truth But Torah.’
He looked suspicious, then, unwilling to see the other side’s point of view calls them ‘Racist.’
He’s spreading knowledge of Torah?
Do you really think they would have taken him at his word? Be honest with yourself. I’m pretty sure they would’ve challenged him in any case, because they likely couldn’t conceptualize of a reason that a black person would have a Torah.
For a margainalized people we need to be listening to and believing those in our community who we in turn margainalize.
Chill everyone, its not such a Big Deal to go crazy about. Maybe it was racist, maybe it wasnt, WHO CARES??????
I also wanted to stand with Yehudah Webster. But once I saw he was associated with Linda Sarsour I felt betrayed and used. It is simply not acceptable to be associated with such evil…until he disavows her he does not get a pass.
Carrying a Torah in a plastic bag… anyone would of been stopped.
Yehuda you could easily of made him to believe you’re Jewish by saying a posuk or two, you choose not to and acted stuck up. Sorry brother but it’s not racism I’m sure it was a scary experience, I’m sure even more scary because you’re black but you handled it all wrong.
This community as a whole is not racist, most all of the people aren’t racist besides it’s unchassidik to be racist/hate G-ds handy work.
What makes you think that this was wasn’tt born Jewish?
Real Jews are only white? Check your Jewish values!6
From his actions it is obvious he was setting himself up for trouble.
There is no racism here!
It’s sad to watch. It’s sad to read these comments. I keep asking myself and wondering lately with every local news item and community issue, what would the Rebbe say. How sorely we miss his leadership, even though we already know what he would say to us. We have lost our way, so deeply, we don’t even m ow it. We need to do a cheshbon hanefesh. The Rebbe reached out and deeply loved our black neighbors. To hear how people speak in this comment section and on the streets of Kingston and behind about black people. The animated and… Read more »
If the people who tried to stop you lived in a community where black jews walking with a torah in the street were common they wouldn’t have any reasons to stop you. It is an uncommon scene and you should have the common sense of realizing that people who simply love and respect Torah and find the situation strange and want to know what is going on.
I’m truly sorry this happened to you. And, reading these comments only compounds things.
For the commenters: when you say that he doesn’t “look Jewish” you mean he doesn’t look Ashkenazi.
There was no reason for someone to aggressively approach him and demand to know why he has a Sefer Torah other than because of his racial appearance. With the overpolicing of African-Americans, one can understand why Yehuda just wanted to get in his Lyft and go.
A sefer Torah is the most precious Jewish Possession. It is perfectly fine for an inquiry to be made of a Not – Jewish Looking man [-fact…] carrying a Torah into a taxi!!
Why is a Lubavitch website giving such validity to a Conservative Jew. For all practical purposes he shouldn’t in fact be holding a Sefer Torah. We love whether Jewish or not – but please don’t attack us Jews for looking out for our most treasured possession.
Here come the liberals. Boohoo. Demanding apologies. Ummm really? He should apologize for judging us. He should try to understand us in our community instead of spreading hate. If he cares about peaceful coexistence he can’t just walk out with a torah uncovered and expect no questions. He was provoking and he knows it good and well
To nmber 22 doesn’t looks he is a Jew . He said he studies in in a university in heiffa about conservative.. doesn’t make him a Jew .
To see a black man caring a Sefer Tora such the most holy . And who ever donated a Torah it’s cost a lot of money isn’t a regular thing to see a black man was carting it
And he had to explain it . He had to say who he is . Didn’t say that was the resort .
He’s a sick activist agitator.
Which half decent man wouldn’t take a moment to answer a caring fellow Jew’s concern about a Torah? If you care for the Torah, you would appreciate the extra scrutiny that fellow Jews display and take a moment to answer.
Whenever I go through airport security, I take a moment to thank the security personnel for “hasseling” me. I thank them because I appreciate what they are doing and that they are protecting what is dear to me. Only an idiot or a terrorist would become “defensive” or “offended” by the need for the scrutiny.
Carrying a torah without a cover is highly suspicious and I’m so happy to hear that crown heights people care enough to stop and question something that seems off. A torah contains our blueprint for how we live our life. Seeing someone who doesn’t outwardly abide by those guidelines- such as no tzitzis or head covering- is a cause for suspicion. Just as you would suspect a Hispanic looking person carrying an African American child. Without clothes on. Is it racist or caring to question this person? I think caring.
Hello. My name is Madison Bettle. Unlike the majority of you on here, I am not afraid to name myself. I am calling you out for your inability to engage in critical thinking and your failure to recognize your own prejudice and – yes – racism. To the individual who actually made the claim that because no one mentioned the man’s skin colour, the incident was not racist: do you really think someone needs to point out a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, or orientation in order for a person’s revolting behaviour to be deemed racially (etc) motivated? You can easily… Read more »
Sorry, we live in fear of our african american neighbors. There are 2-3 violent attacks a week. There was no way of knowing that this guy was Jewish.
Seems to me from the lingo being used in the comments above that the only one(s?) supporting Yehuda are non-Chabad (or shall I say anti-chabad). They are such farces because they don’t know us at all yet they judge us and hate us just because we look different than them. They are the least “tolerant” people out there. They lecture everyone else to be tolerant yet they don’t miss an opportunity to criticize us and they way we choose to live.
1) The understanding here is that Yehuda walked outside without a Kippah or any other identifiable Jewish garments. Furthermore, it is mostly not understood by the outside crowd here that a Torah scroll being carried on the street without a Talit is a huge red flag and rightful cause of concern. 2) fact is that many outside commentators here may not understand that there are 100’s of petty crimes and a few serious crimes committed by black against Jews on a monthly basis here in Crown Heights (Just tonight my package was stolen by a black man as we saw… Read more »
I think that anyone who was entertaining the idea that left wing liberal Jews may have something to offer, this is a great reminder of how unwell they are. This exposes their double-standard and disgust for anyone who doesn’t think and act like them. This exposes them for what they are. They are liberal hacks taking such a cheap shot at the Jewish nation. Jews are the most generous and kind hearted people. Chassidim are the most generous people and the people of Crown Heights are the most generous people. Thank you for the opportunity to help anyone with a… Read more »
Any conservative temple has torah scrolls! Where are these bar mitzvot being performed? Anyway, a Torah Scroll is not needed for performing a bar mitzvah: ask any mivtzoim bochur who discovers a karkafta! And why wouldn’t J Levine books instruct renters to cover the sefer torahs it rents out, when it is not in an aron — Especially to a repeat renter, as the writer of this article says he is. If he has past experience handling/renting sefer torah scrolls, he should know this by now: why would J Levine rent scrolls to someone who doesn’t take proper care with… Read more »
If anybody cares for the truth , check his facebook page. Proffesional rabble rouser who affiliates with all the usual antisemitic suspects. Successful in getting lots of attention for himself to promote his sick agenda.
It is truly awful that you were harassed and Judiasm at its worst. It’s also sad that all JOC experience this to a degree and their white counterparts try to whitewash it all. I will try harder for us all.
This is not a black vs white or even Conservative Jewish vs Orthodox Jewish. This is so clearly Liberalism (the mental disorder type) vs. common sense. His picture with Linda Sarsour should help anyone with common sense realize that if the story alone didn’t make it obvious. And the Liberal agitators will continue wondering why he can’t pose with Linda Sarsour without being “judged” and “profiled”…
Yehuda is a lovely person with wonderful middos. Neighbors in my relatives building. I’m sad he had to go through this. He is owed an apology and some nice flowers or wine. If only Jews in our neighborhood were so busy with mitzvas as he is.
Why you so offensive of being a convert black Jew or black Jew ? if you are proud Jewsih boy ,why you didnt want to have a dialog with a chassidic Jew by name Yehuda when he stopped you ? but want to have it now ? why it was so hard for you to introduce yourself ? and now you blaming other Jews for treating you not nicely ? start dong ahavas yisroel from yourself .change your behavior and be a mentch if you know what does it mean
After reading this I expected to see an outpour of support and apologies, but instead it’s a classic case of blaming the victim
I’m sorry this happened, Yehuda. The last thing we need in today’s current climate is Jews attacking Jews.
When Jewish people care as much about racism as they do about anti-Semitism, incidents like this one will stop. Same goes for homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and misogyny. If Moses himself tried to carry a Torah through Crown Heights, he’d be ridiculed, laughed at, and suspected of theft.
this guy is a professional protester, loves the antisemitic BDS supporters linda sarsour and Julia Salazar. I dont believe a word of this..
This extreme overreaction and publicity of what anyone has to admit is an honest mistake is yet ANOTHER attempt to defame Jews, and observant Jews in particular. I don’t think this personal grudge against two people should have been published or given air time.
The way this was approached by these chasidim shows their disbelief that anyone that appears as anything other than ashkenazim couldn’t possibly be Jewish.
He could have explained himself right away and he would have been accused of lying.
These are the same people who challenge the legitimacy Mizrahim, Sephardim, and Beta Israel.
He is a devoted leader of the Jewish community in a number of different circles. The chesed he does for so many yiddin – frum yiddin and non-religious alike – who have been totally ignored by our communities is unparalleled. May those who objected to his carrying the Torah accept his genuine invitation to connect, collaborate, and process.
Now I see a person referring to this man as a “Creature”. Even if you disagree with his attitude, how he carried the Torah or anything else, impugning that he isn’t even a human being is the worst kind of bigotry.
Sadly, many in the chabad community engage in this very practice, towards blacks, arabs, any group of people that isn’t like them. something that needs a tikkun.
first of all i want to say i agree with what #60 and all of you people that are saying its racist are stupid and if you cant see this, then your mind has been taken over from the mind set of the goyishe velt sad but a sickness spreading through our comunity
Thank you for being such a wonderful example of trying to teach people not to be bigoted when you have every right to be angered by their actions. KOL HAKOVOD to you!!!
And to the people questioning him further: HOW DARE YOU! You do not get to judge others Judaism ever– that is a chillul hashem- stop it now.
Dear Yehuda, Everything that happens in life is Divine Providence. Many times when a person goes through a conversion to Judaism it is a very difficult Journey. Many times people start with going through a reform conversion then on to a conservative conversion thinking they are upgrading their Judaism, and then they find the truth, that’s only through following Halacha is one identified by man and by the Torah as part of Am Yisroel. It sounds like you are making every effort to dedicate your life to haShem. May I suggest that you reach out to a local Chabad house… Read more »
Not surprising at all. I’d be more surprised if he didn’t. Sounds just like her.
Even when the police help him he throws in a jab. You think he wants dialogue. He’s nasty and hateful
Yehudah does not owe any of us an explanation on who he has met. The only reason to bring up Sarsour is in an attempt to smear this man over the crime he DIDN’T commit.
This is the kind of people that populates crown heights nowadays. The kind of people that carry a Sefer Torah without covering it, without wearing a yarmulka or tzitzis, and get outraged when locals ask him what is this all about.
This horrible treatment of a Jew of Color dishonors Judaism. We all need to commit to broadening our view of our community— with justice and compassion we can grow and be redeemed. Stand with Yehudah Webster.
What the Crown Heights community did we’re not the actions of racists, they were the actions of good people paying attention and doing the right thing.
What this guy is doing are not the actions of a victim, they are the actions of a nasty and hateful person.
Imagine what he would do if the roles were reversed or if they involved the police and were reversed. He’s a nasty guy. It’s very simple. Don’t let them control the conversation. They communicate the same way the disgusting hateful anti Israel crowd does. Their nasty and vicious.
I see that he has a Facebook picture with Linda Sarsour. The famous antisemite. Can he explain ?
Do you really think everyone who stopped him would’ve went “oh okay!” and carried on with their day had he said that? Please, who are you all trying to fool.
1) Good job fellow Yidden
2) This guy is not a friend of this community
A person’s tell you all about them. See who he associates with (people who are proud to dislike our community) and you’ll see everything you need to know. He’s nasty and he’s a bully.
If he is involved with someone who hates Jews, wants us dead in Israel then yes we have every right to know everything and not just one side of the story. Because it sure sounds like a trap to create more anti semitism that will hit you along with everyone else here.
There’s thousands of these sick people like this Webster guy. Attacking entire communities and anyone they like of being racist. Just like Al Sharpton back in the day. These are truly sick people. He’s not looking for dialogue, that’s for sure. Wolves in sheep clothing.
Crown Heights, stay strong, stay proud, and don’t take in what these sick nasty people say.
Excuse me sir….. if anyone that doesn’t look like a frum bearded tzitzit kippah wearing yid was going anywhere with a Torah ….. I will stop him and question him period
There are many halachic issues here but lets not turn your idea of yiddishkiet into some kind of chilul
There ate many Jews of Color in CH…. and they actually look and dress and ACT jewish
To the comprehension-challenged liberals: Yarmulkes and tzitzis are Jewish. Jeans are goyish. Levi’s jeans are very goyish. Sidelocks are Jewish, mohawks goyish. Holding a Torah without a Tallis is very goyish.
This is horrific and I’m so sorry – not only that this happened to you but that this is even an issue that we keep havig to come back to in the Jewish community and in the world at large. Racism and racial profiling has got to stop. I don’t know how or when it will happen – but we have to do something about it!
Attack and accuse others of being racist. You decide that our opinion is racist and so we must agree with you. Typical and common from so many nut jobs today.
The suspicion was justified and you people attacking the community are sick and nasty. Don’t be intimidated by them, their screaming, their hysterics, and their mania.
They sound like the same people protesting everything else, like Kapparos. Same mania.
I noticed that somebody above mentioned that he was carrying the Torah without it being covered in a Talis.
Even a Jew wearing the most Chasidic garb with long Payos would have been stopped and regarded with high suspicion. That is not the way a Torah is transported and anybody who is transporting it that way deserves to be stopped and questioned.
If you again see a guy that looks like him carrying a Sefer Torah stop him.
He’s clearly not our friend and is the one stereotyping our community for being justifyingly suspicious.
Classic anti semitism. Attacking Jewish people who seek to protect ourselves and are reasonably suspicious. Same exact thing as what happens in Israel.
He’s a person with hate and bias towards us, one of many.
Yehudah! You just got a true lesson about the Torah. Here it is: 1) The Torah is not a book, it’s a living thing. It’s like a child. As you noticed people reacted as if it was a child getting abducted. That is love for the Torah. 2) Torah scrolls are never seen in public taking Lyft. Nothing really wrong with Lyft, but Torah scrolls never go out without a proper covering that would have changed the whole situation. So you learned how hyper vigilant Jews are of the torah and you learned to always cover a torah when its… Read more »
can’t man just eat his waffles
all you people’s having your sadz, how do know what went down at the scene, did anybody bother to ask the security personal
this creature is part of national movement of professional victims. to simply take his story published in Facebook rant, aimed at marshaling as large a force of aggressive compassion buddies against the community as possible, at face value is the height of naivete, assuming you are just a mendacious progressive.
he want dialog, seriously, he just wants to talk.
To those who are defending what happened to Yehuda today, stop and listen to yourselves. Your entire argument is that he owed a stranger on the street an answer because he supposedly doesn’t “look Jewish.” That is racism. Jews are not all of European origin. Have you been to Israel? Stood on a corner in Tel Aviv for even 5 minutes? You want to tell me that they all look like you? They don’t. Stop. Reflect. Do a little teshuvah here. The man is inviting dialogue and your response is to castigate him. If that is not sinat chinam then… Read more »
That’s my guess and my hope. Or that they’re not from our community. This guy is anything but a well meaning person. Anyone capable of reading what he wrote can see that. He’s an activist. He writes exactly as someone who dislikes our community would write. What we now know and what we’ve now learned about is his negative attitude towards our community. He’s looking to divide and attack. That’s the main thing that this story shows us.
Is he born Jewish? Is he a convert? Was it a proper conversion?
What type of people is he using these Torahs for? Are they hslachically Jewish? Whatever the situation it needs to be dealt with in a respectful way, both for the individual, as well as for the Torah
How does this man owe anyone an explanation about having met Linda Sarsour? Since he wasn’t guilty of the crime he was being accused of, why is there some kind of need to find something else to damn him for other to assuage your own guilt?
I see that he has a Facebook picture with Linda Sarsour. The famous antisemite. Can he explain ?
All he had to say to the first Rabbi who approached him was ” Hey, I am renting this for a Bar mitzvah etc”…
He caused the outrage by not responding….
It’s very sad to see all these people attacking this man instead of taking the time to think about the way the mob confronting him reacted.
Jewish Mother? Proper conversion?
I would ask this of ANY non-orthodox Jew!!!
I am so sorry that this happened to you 🙁
To everyone saying it wasn’t racist, it’s just that he doesn’t “look Jewish,” THAT IS RACIST.
we have a lot of guests here today: welcome progressive agitators! If as stated above this fellow’s claim to jewishness is having underwent a procedure conjured by the conservative movement , then we are being attacked by a goy and his army of social media conspiritors.
So fellow Jews: take heed not to post anything personally identifing because this new audience and its reach are rather vicious in their compassion.
the problem, in so far as this fellow is jewish by the Torah, is having put him in possession thereof to begin with.
Is this Yehuda stupid how often do you see a black with a Torah especially one who doesn’t look Jewish you don’t look Jewish like a lot of Ethiopia’s Jews you follow conservatism so yeah you looked like any random black person who if they had a Torah it would be due to a robbery
It’s particularly disconcerting that one commenter said, and others implied, that the incident wasn’t racist because Yehuda was attacked not for being black but for “not looking Jewish”. Can you not see how racist that is? Who are you to determine who “looks” Jewish? Jews look like every kind of person. It is because he does not “look” like you that you treat him differently, and yes that is racism.
I am horrified by what happened to you and horrified all over again by the comments here that seek to treat you as other and erase your Jewish identity. I am so ashamed of my people. We have to confront the racism in our community once and for all.
The guy’s loyalties are clearly to his skin pigmentation and not to his Being a Jew.. This is not “racism” not even “racial profiling” as was suggested. This is simply normal people being vigilant and responsible citizens. If I see *anyone* (whatever the pigmentation) schlepping a Sefer Toiroh into a Lyft or Uber or whatever I would be suspicious…
to everyone saying that a polite explanation would have taken care of the issue, 1) he did attempt to explain and 2) WHY? why did he need to explain at all?
What do you think racism is? it is powerful yet subtle also, and it is as pernicious and automatic as the antisemitism we rightly protest. ask yourselves, if you’re positive that being black had nothing to do with it, or just not everything.
If a white man without a kippah was carrying the Sefer Torah or if a white woman had been carrying one, they might be looked at suspiciously, or even questioned, but they wouldn’t be attached the way this man was. This was a racist mob and people here should stop Making excuses. As far as I know, most Sifrei Torah are stolen by white, frum (looking) men.
We need to calm down. My father alav hasholom passed away suddenly. The levaya was Wednesday afternoon. I asked a friend to borrow his family’s Sefer torah. He told me he will ask his father and let me know. He called me and asked me who will return the Sefer torah. I told him my son will. Thursday morning he brought over the Sefer torah. My son went to return the Sefer torah and was screamed at by an older person. The old man said you need to permission to take a Sefer torah from shul. Don’t ever take a… Read more »
I wouldn’t trust this guy as far as I can throw him. It seems by him not answering, in order to purposely escalate a suspicious situation that he created, and then running to his Facebook page to broadcast negativity against Jews to the whole world- he’s got an axe to grind against Chasidic Jews.. long before he created this whole incident. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Jew Hater Al Sharpton (or other liberal anti-Semites like Sharpton) put this guy up to this publicity stunt to try to turn the tables on an innocent, holy community of Yidden that has… Read more »
I see black Jews all the time in Crown Heights. Many of them wear Chabad garb. I think if he were wearing Chabad garb, the story would have been much different. But unfortunately for him he didn’t look Jewish at all.
The behavior was unquestionably racist. Unfortunately many people cannot see racism when it is starting at them in the face — particularly from the mirror.
Yehudah is your fellow Yid. How dare you race bait and speak like a fool.
He’s not Jewish.e thinks he is, but he converted through a conservative congregation, so he isn’t Jewish
Why did she react to Hannah’s facebook post? Why is she involved…I have a bad feeling this is being used to set us up for more assaults
Yehudah, with all due respect, didn’t you have preconceived notions about the NYPD? that was being judgmental too. Same here… As the many previous comments, this has nothing to do about race and color. This has to do with normally people don’t walk down the street with Torahs . BTW we live in a world that if you see something, say something. A polite conversation would have avoided a lot a heartache.
Why can’t these commenters be humble enough to admit this was wrong? Why attack a teacher instead of asking why so many people in CH jumped to conclusions? Halacha says we must give the benefit of the doubt. Is it truly the case that the klal of CH can only imagine a Jew with white skin? That leaves out so many of our brothers and sisters. We must do better.
Plain and simple…When they found out he was a Jew- right away, they continued with their accusations.
Sinat Chinam, right there.
What happened to a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. In Crown Heights what you really mean is a white Jew is a white Jew is a white Jew. Embarrassed by all of you more and more. Your racism is showing and it is not pretty.
Not only is what happened to Yehudah vile the comments on this page are repugnant. Half of the world’s Jews are Jews of Color! What does it mean to “look Jewish”? Open your eyes to the sinas chinam that is blinding you! K’llal Yisroel is inpain and broken when Jews hate or are suspicious of other Jews for nothing more than the color of their skin! Chaval!
A man was treated with disrespect and flagrant racism and a lot of the frum community is blaming him as if its his fault. Absolutely disgusting. There is much teshuva that needs to be done in CH and the frum community at large if this type of behavior is allowed to flourish.
Some of these comments are absolutely horrendous. Where is your Ahavas Yisroel? There is clearly racism in our community which reared its ugly head as illustrated with this incident, how dare you people suggesting it was his fault or that he didn’t “explain himself”??? If it was your frei son or cousin or brother walking to return a Sefer Torah “un kein yarmulke”, would you think that interrogating and harassing and ultimately physically intimidating him is a solution normal people would come to? Of course not. Elah mai… his skin is darker than yours. Shame on the Crown Heights members… Read more »
I am 100% positive that if I (a white woman) was spotted walking down the street carrying a sefer Torah, folks would either 1 – not say anything 2 – ask me if I need help carrying this heavy and delicate item. No one would question whether I was entitled to have it in the first place. It is not against the law for people to have a sefer Torah in their possession and the tactics used by people to stop him — including blocking the driver with their cars — smacks of vigilante-ism. As for the comments about him… Read more »
You must have missed the part where we all mourned for the Jews who were murdered at a Conservative shul in Pittsburgh HY”D, if you think you can make fun of him for “playing” rabbi. He went to JTS, he’s probably more of a rabbi than half the yungerleit with semicha in Crown Heights
Best way to test if something is racist is to see if it would be the same scenario if one would plug in another race:
i.e. Japanese, Muslim, Chinese, Thai, Caucasian, etc…
If a random white-American girl or guy without a yarmulka with regular street clothes walked onto the street with a Torah and answered the EXACT same thing, to “”leave me alone” then the same Bochurim would have the SAME response.
Therefore this is NOT racist at all.
Stop saying he wasn’t dressed “Jewishly,” he was wearing a yarmulke. Anti-black racism is a cancer in Lubavitch. Number 24, you’re not telling the truth. There are many acts of violence committed by Jews against other Jews AND against blacks in Crown Heights, and anti-blackness is a way of distracting us from solving the real issues with achdus in our community.
The men would not have harassed you if they knew you were Jewish. They were only trying to protect the Torah. I don’t think they meant any harm.
Therefore, there is no need for dialogue. A simple, “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding and any harm I caused you” is enough.
Have dialogue. He may come to understand why everyone was worried he was trying to steal. You may come to understand why he was terrified for his life. Either way, everyone sees each other as real people and not just anonymous words on a webpage
He was born a Christian and converted through a Conservative synagogue.
Never once did this gentile express his concern for the fact that his black brothers perpetrate violence against Jews in Crown Heights but suddenly when he is questioned for looking like someone committing a crime, he is suddenly an oppressed black Jew.
very, very true.
How is one supposed to know that he wasn’t stealing it.
A white or black man not wearing Yalrmulka or Tzitzits walking with a Sefer Torah is questionable and should be asked etc.
This is quite obvious.
This guy is 100% wrong never did he take a moments time to explain himself and to my fellow yidden I hope if you see a goy walking with a sefer torah no talis just you will do the same
So many people are saying it’s justified that he was racially targeted because “he didn’t look Jewish”. And are saying that the same would have happened if he was white. That’s a lie and you all know it. If he was white and dressed secular the same thing would not have happened. Too many people in our community are racist and don’t like Black people, even when they’re Jewish. This guy regularly wears a kippa and is involved in Jewish life and community. But that doesn’t matter to so many of you. Y’all are racist and need to stop. Black… Read more »
We should appreciate that he didn’t turn this into an attack.
On the other hand, being that the situation in CH is tense, which means it is perfectly likely that a non-Jew would vandalize a Torah/attempt to sell it, I don’t blame these guys for reacting this way. If I saw a non Jewish looking guy (we must be objective, I’m not questioning his Jewishness butobjectively does not fit the stereotypical look of a Jew in Ch) who told me that the reason he was carrying a Torah was none of my business, I would’ve assumed he stole it also.
so how could they know he was jewish???
This is not about race or color. this is simply people who thought he was a non-jew with a torah, and they questioned that fact.
One fine morning I checked out of my hotel room and walked out of the lobby with a large clear bag full of white towels. Needless to say, the towels belonged to me. When the security asked me what I think I’m doing I responded with “I don’t owe you an explanation!”. The rest of the story is not pretty…
I would be suspicious of anyone, any color without Jewish garb who is walking down the street with a Torah. That being said, in Crown Heights it is expected that the Jews would be more suspicious of a black man given that ALL not some of the crimes against Jews are done by blacks in Crown Heights. So before people judge they need to understand Crown Heights. They need to understand that Crown Heights is a high crime area. And an area of tension between Jews and blacks. So unfamiliar person with Torah leads to suspicion.. that person being black… Read more »
Ok so now the comments are questioning whether in fact he does or does not look Jewish. There are those who are willfully obtuse, who you can’t help with an internet comment, but for anybody who’s really having difficulty with this, go to his Facebook: Don’t look at the picture in this profile where he plays Rabbi, go to his Facebook where he posts the portrait of himself as he was likely viewed by our security service. Ask yourself, whether you ask him to put on tefillin on your route or whether you do not. You can trust your intuition.… Read more »
The mob-like behavior did not stop when he said he was Jewish. This goes beyond caring for the Torah and clearly enters the territory of racism.
“Nothing she or I said, not my explanation that I was returning the Torah to J Levine Judaica, not Hannah’s passionate assertion that I’m a Jewish educator working to bring Torah to Jews that don’t have, would convince the mob, the chasidic security, that I had legitimate reason to have the Torah — that I wasn’t indeed stealing it as they clearly believed.”
A Torah, besides for being holy, is a very costly object. The cost is upward $35,000. That’s not something you see a person just carrying around on a daily basis. Even chasidic people are not seen just strolling down the street with a Torah.
What is more, when a Torah is carried outside, it must be covered with a tallis. From what it sounds, this guy wasn’t handling it according to halacha which immediately raised the correct suspicion of people around.
And his stubborn insistence on not identifying himself, just added suspicion.
When someone who doesn’t look visibly Jewish is walking around with a Torah, it’s usually cause for concern. He shouldn’t have “defensively made them to know I owe them no explanations and their continued demands and harassment was racist.”
Instead, he could’ve patiently attempted to prove that he has a legitimate reason to be using a Torah. I’d be suspicious of a white non Jewish looking man or woman holding a Torah as well.
This person clearly has a attitude of victimhood, you only need to go to his Facebook page to see his Black Lives Matter images.
If a young white guy, with no yarmulka and tzitzis, would have been carrying a Torah down the street, he would also have been suspected and stopped!
Why is everyone saying he doesn’t “look” Jewish? He looks like plenty of black Jews I’ve met. Most Jews aren’t blonde either, do you have the right to gang up on a blonde man holding a sefer Torah? It’s pretty racist to assume that Jews have to look a certain way. It’s disgraceful the way Yehudah was treated, it’s a chillul Hashem, and the anti-black racism in Crown Heights is giving the Rebbe agmas nefesh.
He should have explained himself.
It seems to me that he’s part of a subclass of people in our community that invites every opportunity which has the potential to make for a popular story on social media.
This is exactly the point, why dialogue is so important! Indeed, he could have explained himself; but the point is that only because of his skin color was he even approached. And if those who approached him had done so respectfully, first explaining themselves – as in: I know this might seem unfriendly, but we’ve had lots of Torah thefts in the neighborhood and I hope you’ll forgive me for asking you. At least acknowledging the perceived disrespect would have gone a long way, I’m sure. So let’s stop saying this wasn’t racially motivated – it sure as heck was!… Read more »
Let’s stop playing games. Go to his Facebook and look at his portraits and ask yourself whether you would ask him to put on Tefillin on your outreach route. The answer is no. He doesn’t look Jewish. Full stop. He was questioned because he doesn’t look Jewish. We have a number of Jews with black skin in our community, any of whom could have carried that Torah without event. Because, they look Jewish. And if a white man, who did not look Jewish, or an Latin American man, who did not look Jewish, were carrying that Torah, then they too,… Read more »
he caused so much confusion. The response was not so far-fetched, especially in a precinct which is already marred by anti-semitic attacks against chassidic jews…
I’m happy to hear that there are caring people out there who speak up when they notice something suspicious. There have been a lot of crime incidents in the community and they were trying to prevent another one. Anyone with the slightest understanding of Judaism knows that a torah is extremely precious. A man who doesn’t look Jewish, however good his intentions may be, is a very valid cause for suspicion. This has nothing to do with racism! This is about safety and protection. When someone leaves a hospital with their child, they need to show their identity. It would… Read more »
I don’t buy this as racism. This is pure sensationalism. A Torah scroll being carted around by Anyone who does not appear Jewish would be remarked on. There are plenty of religious black people in our own community who would not be questioned carrying a Torah scroll. If he was questioned and feels that it’s Only because he was black then that’s very sad but unfortunately sometimes innocent people suffer due to the bad behavior of others.This misunderstanding is one of the consequences of what we’ve had to endure from people who, compared to them, we are are by far… Read more »
What happened is not racism but racial profiling. Leftists try to brainwash people into believing that those are the same thing, and that there’s something wrong with profiling, but that’s ridiculous. Profiling, including by race, is common sense, and it’s literally (and I do mean absolutely literally) insane to try to train oneself not to engage in it. At the same time, when engaging in profiling one must look at *all* the circumstances, not just one thing. A black man holding a sefer Torah should arouse ones suspicions, but if he’s dressed like a yid that should give one pause.… Read more »
Now, if only Shomrim and Shmirah were so vigilant when Sfrei Torah are actually stollen out of Shuls?
if you live in CH and at least read news of hate crime or criminal news . you should know that lots of crime here coming from afro-americans , and youdont look like a majority of Jews here , and i dont know if you have a yarmolkah etc . You could prevent this story and making all against you ,just by explaining the 1st jew that all is good and you are not a thief ….. sorry but you are wrong and pls don’t say that Jews are racists -go and see all our food pantry and help of… Read more »
Any person who does not appear Jewish, white or black, will rightly be questioned if seen carrying a sefer Torah in the street. It is not uncommon for Torahs to get stolen in nyc. In this case unfortunately there was a breakdown in communication and it escalated for no reason.
Why didn’t you just tell the man who first approached you what it is that you do? “Honesty is the best policy”. By not answering it implied there was something amiss. True you don’t owe anybody anything, but if there’s nothing to hide why not say so from the start.
The people there should have treated him nicer, but he also could have simply said “I’m a Jew!” instead of saying “I don’t have to answer you”
He should have explained himself that would’ve avoided a lot of misunderstanding. He’s not so innocent as he’s making himself sound
It should of never happened But from your own story i dont see how this was racists at all. The fact that you are black had nothing to do with it. You did not say once that someone said anything about your skin color! Yes when Jews see someone who looks like a non jew carrying a Torah the right thing to do is to stop them and ask for a explanation 99% of the time the Torah was stolen True you dont owe a explanation but by saying you dont want to give one will only make things worse… Read more »
You don’t see every day black men with a Torah in Ch, and it happended before that Torah scrolls got stolen….. It’s not because he’s black……
this guy is wrong, instead of the liberal way of everything is racist, he could have explained whats going on. he took the wrong route and is upset he was treated wrong
Yehuda, what a terrible situation for you to have gone through. It is also very admirable for you to reach out and try to make the best of it. Hopefully, thru your grace many will learn and heal.
Thank G-d the NYPD saved the day by preventing those white people from stealing this Jewish man’s Torah. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, and it would be a good Idea to move to a Jewish community.Something like this would never happen amongst Jews.