Mar 9, 2018
Tonight: Ari Halberstam Yartzeit

Political and law enforcement leaders visited Devorah Halberstam to commemorate the shooting of her son Ari Halberstam 24 years ago.

The 23rd of Adar marks the 24th anniversary of the death of Ari Halberstam obm, who was murdered by a terrorist on the Brooklyn Bridge.

This year on March 1st, which fell on Purim, many political and law enforcement leaders visited Devorah Halberstam, Ari's mother, at her Crown Heights home, to commemorate the tragic day.

In attendance were Councilmember and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, NYPD new Community Affairs Chief Nilda Hofmann, NYPD Chief Steven Powers, outgoing 71st Precinct Commanding Officer Norman Grandstaff and incoming Commanding Officer Francis Giordano, and community affairs officers from the NYPD in Brooklyn and the 71st Precinct, among many others.

"Ari's memory must be kept alive," Devorah Halberstam said. "A generation has passed, and we need to teach the new generation about Ari, especially our own people."

Halberstam relates that she is shocked at times to meet youngsters who have not heard of Ari.

"Just as Rebbetzin Devorah Leah is remembered for her sacrifice, so too, Ari's story needs to be embedded in the history of Chabad. Every school needs to teach their students about what happened that day, how Ari gave his life for the Rebbe and died al Kiddush Hashem," she said.

On the 23rd of Adar, (March 1) 1994, a gunman in a car opened fire on a van carrying more than a dozen Chabad students as it began to cross the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, critically wounding two young men and injuring two others.

The injured Yeshiva students were among dozens who were returning from a Manhattan hospital where the spiritual leader of the Lubavitch movement, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, had undergone minor surgery.

The attack occurred less than a week after the massacre of Muslims by a Brooklyn-born Jewish settler in the West Bank. The shooting began at 10:24 A.M. on the ramp that leads from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to the Brooklyn Bridge.

The van that was fired on, a white Dodge Ram 350 carrying 15 students, was one of perhaps 20 vehicles en route back to Crown Heights from Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, where Rabbi Schneerson was being treated.

Initially, the gunman followed the Rebbe’s entourage to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. When he found that it was closed to other vehicular traffic, he reversed his course and traveled north to the Brooklyn Bridge.

When the gunman saw the students garbed in their Hasidic dress, he immediately opened fire. In the first burst of gunfire, the gunman strafed the passenger side of the van, striking three of the students and blowing out the rear windows.

The van came to a stop, and two of the students stumbled out as the driver and the others attempted to see if anyone had been hit. Gunfire then erupted again from the blue four-door Chevrolet, this time raking the driver’s side.

The driver of the van then sped off toward Brooklyn, leaving the two students on the bridge. They were later picked up by an emergency medical technician. The gunman followed the fleeing van with shouts of “Kill the Jews,” hailed in Arabic.

The Wounded

All the shooting victims were immediately rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital. The most severe of the wounded was 16-year-old Ari Halberstam obm who was shot in the head. He suffered from profound brain injuries and died five days later.

Nachum Sosonkin, 18, also shot in the head, underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. He still has a bullet lodged in his brain, but has made a miraculous recovery.

The Funeral

At least ten thousand mourners gathered in front of 770 Eastern Parkway, the headquarters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Cries of anguish could be heard as the coffin bearing the body of Ari Halberstam was carried to the funeral hearse.

The hearse drove Halberstam for a final tour of Crown Heights, past the yeshiva on Troy Avenue where he studied, past the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s former home on President Street.

It stopped in front of the Halberstam home on Eastern Parkway, where members of the family made a small incision into their clothing, and Ari’s father, mother and siblings ripped another three inches deeper, saying, as is customary for the Jewish mourner, “Blessed is the True Judge.”

They then put on their coats and walked slowly down Eastern Parkway and knew this funeral would not be private. Their Ari now belonged to history, a history of martyrs, mentioned in the same breath as Yankel Rosenbaum and the Six Million.

Thousands of Jews swelled across Eastern Parkway and down Kingston Avenue. They all came, Reform, Conservative, Viznitz, Belz, Agudah. Dozens of Hasidim watched from fire escapes. Mayor Giuliani and Gov. Mario Cuomo watched from the podium. More than 250 police officers joined in the funeral procession to guard against any incidents that might take place.

Hundreds of drivers got out of their cars and stood to pay tribute as the hearse carried Ari Halberstam’s body to the chapel in Montefiore Cemetery in Queens. The Chevra Kaddisha (those involved in Jewish burial) lowered Halberstam into the grave near the Rebbe, just across the aisle from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s wife and mother, of blessed memory, where people from all walks of life visit Ari's gravesite.

NY1's Errol Louis reflects on the death of Ari Halberstam, 24 years later, and the families of all faiths and backgrounds that are dealing with old wounds that never completely heal.
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ADIC Joseph Demarest with Devorah Halberstam, Director, Foundations and Government Services, Jewish Children’s Museum
ADIC Joseph Demarest with Devorah Halberstam, Director, Foundations and Government Services, Jewish Children’s Museum

Opinions and Comments
Let us remember Ari but...
a massacre by a Jewish settler in the West Bank use terminology that disparages.
Dr. Baruch Goldstein was a well-respected doctor living inthe Jewish community of Kiryat Arba adjacent to the ancient city of Hevron in Yehuda, Eretz Yisroel.
Dr. Goldstein had pleaded numerous times with authorities to provide better security to the Jewish community in Hevron and at Maaras HaMachpela - the burial site of our Avos and Imahos in Eretz Yisroel, our G-d Given eternal Jewish heritage and homeland. He also informed them that he was aware of an imminent terror attack against Jews at the site and was rebuffed and ignored.
You may argue his preempting the attack as a tragic mistake but do not disparage what were noble intentions or label the thousands of Jewish residents who live in Judea, Eretz Yisroel "settlers" implying they are lawless, wild, furthering the lie they are obstacles to peace or, finally, falsely identify Judea and Shomron as the "West Bank" when it is in fact a part of Eretz Yisroel.
The blame should fall squarely on the dangerous policies of the Israeli gov't that put our fellow Jews in Eretz Yisroel at risk. The Rebbe spoke about this more often than about Moshiach.
Ari's tragic murder, Nachum Sosonkin injuries and the trauma the rest of the passengers suffered were as much a result of Israel's policies as they were perpetrated by the gunman, ym"sh.
May the Rebbe's directives for Shleimus HaAretz be fulfilled miyad mamash!
Tamar Adelstein
Crown Hts. Women for the Safety and Integrity of Israel
(3/9/2018 4:18:59 PM)
To #1
I'm going to be sick from your comment. Goldstein was a MONSTER, a terrorist,a racist, an Islamaphobe, and a COMPLETE PSYCHOPATH. He went to where Muslims were PRAYING and massacred 29 of them. For.No.Reason. He did nothing except spread fear and hatred and cause uneccesary death. He and Baz are equally evil.
(3/10/2018 3:53:01 AM)
Valid point. But check your facts
People very often take the rebbes name and slap onto their argument to strengthen their point. Although it’s important to believe that your point is in line with the rebbes hashkafos you’re achieving quite the opposite out what you’re saying is just not true. To say “the rebbe spoke about it more than moshiach” is crossing a line. It could be that you believe that you needed to make your point this way and therefore decided to extended the truth. Trying to say this in the most respectful way possible. There is nothing that the rebbe spoke about more than moshiach and indicate otherwise is just false.
(I apologize for straying from the article at hand, I think though this had to be pointed out)
(3/10/2018 12:31:52 PM)
It’s amazing to see Mrs. Halberstam and the productivity that she’s created. Here is someone who had every excuse in the world to “check out” and had no expectation of giving so much. Yet she did not sit back. She took and continues to take initiative and make a real difference. The children’s museum is a beautiful display of just that.
May we all be reunited with Ari and the Rebbe!
(3/10/2018 12:35:52 PM)
Can it be ?
That so much time has passed & we are still not out of golus ? I was a young mother at the time - dovening for a miracle for Ari like so many others around the world. For several years after this tragedy I couldn’t bring myself to drive over the Brooklyn Bridge choosing rather to take another route. In the zechus of Devorah’s super human emunah & her devotion to our community may HaShem bring Moshiach NOW !!
(3/10/2018 6:40:23 PM)
Re # 1
The wording of the article does seem to imply that the killers were somehow justified, of course they were just hateful terrorists that will burn in gehenom. As for the story of Dr Goldstien taking preemptive action to prevent a planned purim massacre by the arabs, this has been reported.
to #2 you are wrong, it has been documented but of course suppressed by the israeli media that in fact weapons were stored in the Machpela they were praying yes but were getting ready to attack the jews of Hevron. Lookup the Shamgar report but of course thats the official govt line. I suggest to try
(3/11/2018 11:42:33 PM)
but the above article does seem to use some of the same terminology as the notorious UN special committee. îůéç ëŕĺ!
(3/12/2018 1:28:31 AM)
PS to the above comment
We should merit to have The Rebbe and Ari back immediately!
(3/12/2018 1:36:12 AM)
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