Photos: Shimi Kutner/COLlive
Leaders from the Crown Heights community united at a rally behind Lev Scheiber (aka Leviticus), owner of an iconic Mitzvah Bus torched Sunday night in Crown Heights.
The bus is a well known sight in the Jewish community, regularly seen at local festivals, and was featured in singer Benny Friedman’s music video “Ivri Anochi,” which garnered over two million views.
The event, organized by community activist Yaakov Behrman along with Jewish music producers Sruly Meyer and Avram Zamist, was MC’d by Jewish radio host Nachum Segal.
Officials in attendance were ADL Assistant Regional Director Michael Snow, District leader Jeffrey Davis, District Leader Cory Provost, Community Board 9 Chairman Musa More, Representatives from State Senator Jesse Hamilton, and Council Member Darlene Mealy.
Local officials spoke out against the act which was “an attack on our way of life,” and which was determined to be intentional and is being investigating as a hate crime by the NYPD.
“I found the bus Monday morning completely charred. I used the bus as an art studio for Jewish themed paintings, and to transport my kids to school. We are all devastated,” Leviticus said.
“This affects all of us, not one group in particular,” Leviticus said. “It’s a crime against humanity any time somebody does something like this…it makes everybody feel threatened. In times like these we should all come together and become stronger.”
Video: Leviticus speaks at Rally
Singer Benny Friedman called on the community to show support for Lev, “who has dedicated his life to spreading the a message that hate and darkness don’t have a chance,” he said.
Friedman sang his hit song Ivri Anochi, which features the Mitzvah bus prominently in the music video.
Video: Benny sings Ivri Anochi
“I stand against this hateful act of arson against the Mitzvah Bus,” said Senator Jesse Hamilton. “Lev ‘Leviticus’ Scheiber is an artist whose creativity and passion brings a sense of community spirit to our neighborhood. Anyone who would set fire to the Mitzvah Bus, an artwork itself, commits a hateful act against our entire community.
“While the police continue their inquiries, we must be sure to speak out for the inspiring message of love and kindness the Mitzvah Bus and Leviticus’ works represent. Collectively, even in the face of this awful crime, we will uphold the welcoming, inclusive values that make our neighborhood the diverse, dynamic community we all call home, Hamilton said.”