Nov 15, 2018
A Black Man Can't Have a Torah?

Yehudah Webster, a tutor associated with the Conservative Jewish movement, says he was racially harassed in Crown Heights.

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.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
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 you
(11/15/2018 3:51:24 PM)
pathetic story
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
(11/15/2018 3:53:31 PM)
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......
(11/15/2018 3:53:36 PM)
sorry but not sorry
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

Just as you want others to understand where you are coming from so do you need to understand where the community was coming from.

You say you invite people over for a chat but when they came and asked you why you had the Torah you didnt want to talk.

(11/15/2018 3:54:53 PM)
should have explained himself
He should have explained himself that would’ve avoided a lot of misunderstanding. He’s not so innocent as he’s making himself sound
(11/15/2018 4:02:42 PM)
This isn't right
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"
(11/15/2018 4:03:08 PM)
No explanation?
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.
(11/15/2018 4:15:06 PM)
Not racist
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.
(11/15/2018 4:15:36 PM)
When in Rome ,do as the Romans do .
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 Jewish community council are helping all people dosent matter who they are .... how wrong you ... go to 770 and introduce yourself ....
(11/15/2018 4:21:14 PM)
Now, if only Shomrim and Shmirah were so vigilant when Sfrei Torah are actually stollen out of Shuls?
(11/15/2018 4:26:39 PM)
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. If not, one should try to engage him in conversation and see whether he speaks like a yid, like someone who has legitimate business holding a sefer Torah.

What undoubtedly happened here is that someone asked him POLITELY where he was taking the sefer, but he took immediate offense at even being asked that when someone who looks Jewish would not have been, so he answered rudely and inappropriately, thus confirming the person's suspicions. A normal yid would not have taken offense at being asked (and the truth is almost anyone would have been asked no matter how Jewish he looked, simply because one doesn't see a sefer Torah being carried in the street every day) and would have given an answer.
(11/15/2018 4:27:01 PM)
Jews are the most tolerant people by far
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 the most kindly and tolerant and truly humane. The one-sided and continuous harassment and assault that this community has sustained from the black people in this area over time and, including the last few weeks, has made us extremely cautious, with good cause. This is unfortunate for us AND for well meaning black people who are treated with caution since it is impossible to tell immediately if someone means ill or not. A Torah scroll is given the same value and care that the soul of a Jewish child would be given, without thought to being politically correct. If a mistake was made I'm sure a sincere apology would be well deserved but to call this racism is just another attempt to undermine our community.
(11/15/2018 4:29:45 PM)
See something say something
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 have been much easier for him to just give a simple explanation rather than go through the hassle of seeking “peace and discussion” afterwards.
(11/15/2018 4:30:37 PM)
why did he not reply that he was a jew?!?
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...
(11/15/2018 4:36:19 PM)
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, would have been questioned.

Because, they do not look Jewish.

Torah scrolls are stolen all the time - this is a legitimate concern.

I withhold judgement on what happened after the initial questioning until I hear both sides of the story.

Collive: Please, next time, ask for comment from our security personal. Simply publishing the ranting of the alleged victim without any context is more activism than it is responsible community journalism.
(11/15/2018 4:36:40 PM)
It's not a unique experience
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! with good intentions maybe, but racial. Put yourself into a situation where you're suspected just because you look Jewish. How would you feel if someone asked you to explain your expensive iphone because some Jews had been caught stealing them!
Dialogue is absolutely necessary.. If you're truly well-meaning, you will try to be involved in exactly this kind of dialogue.
(11/15/2018 4:37:13 PM)
Should have explained himself
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.
(11/15/2018 4:37:37 PM)
"looking Jewish"
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.
(11/15/2018 4:39:09 PM)
To 18
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!
(11/15/2018 4:43:38 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 4:49:08 PM)
Correct suspicion
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.
(11/15/2018 4:52:31 PM)
He did say he was Jewish--this is Racism
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."
(11/15/2018 4:53:25 PM)
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.

You don't need to join the wailing masses who insist on the virtue of mental decapitation.

(11/15/2018 4:53:33 PM)
It isn't about race
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 leads to even more suspicion. And I agree with the other commenters that instead of getting defensive he should have just explained himself before it all turned into chaos and by the time Hannah came there was so much chaos no one was open to listening to anything.
(11/15/2018 4:56:57 PM)
A Personal Story...
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...
(11/15/2018 4:57:03 PM)
I assume he was not dressed "jewishly"
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.
(11/15/2018 5:01:50 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 5:03:46 PM)
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 people and other people of color are a part of this Jewish community. Stop the racism.
(11/15/2018 5:13:20 PM)
I was there
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
(11/15/2018 5:15:44 PM)
Was he even wearing a Yalmulka?
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.
(11/15/2018 5:16:01 PM)
#25 Could not have said it better myself! hahahahahaha
very, very true.
(11/15/2018 5:17:07 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 5:20:25 PM)
If he wants dialogue
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
(11/15/2018 5:22:07 PM)
I really don't think it's racism
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.
(11/15/2018 5:22:22 PM)
He was wearing a yarmulke
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.
(11/15/2018 5:32:57 PM)
Best test for "racism" is:
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.
(11/15/2018 5:35:02 PM)
To Berel
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
(11/15/2018 5:35:45 PM)
So tired of the racism
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 not "looking Jewish" -- I don't even know what to say. Maybe Jews of Color are in the minority in Brooklyn so you can't see beyond what is considered a stereotypical looking Jewish person in that region, but take a flight to Israel, look around, and tell me who looks and is more authentically Jewish than the other: the Ashkenazi? Ethiopian? Yemeni? Or those who have converted into the religion?

Not sure why Moshiach hasn't come yet? Look in the mirror.
(11/15/2018 5:48:07 PM)
I can't even
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 of the community who condone such vile behavior.
(11/15/2018 5:50:25 PM)
So many racists on this forum
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.
(11/15/2018 5:54:07 PM)
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!
(11/15/2018 5:56:57 PM)
Crown Heights clean up your act!
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.
(11/15/2018 5:58:46 PM)
Plain and simple...When they found out he was a Jew- right away, they continued with their accusations.

Sinat Chinam, right there.
(11/15/2018 5:59:57 PM)
So little chesed here
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.
(11/15/2018 6:05:12 PM)
Notice the statement about NYPD...
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.
(11/15/2018 6:07:50 PM)
Linda Sarsour?
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
(11/15/2018 6:09:24 PM)
"My Fellow Yidden"
Yehudah is your fellow Yid. How dare you race bait and speak like a fool.
(11/15/2018 6:13:34 PM)
Unquestionably Racist
The behavior was unquestionably racist. Unfortunately many people cannot see racism when it is starting at them in the face -- particularly from the mirror.
(11/15/2018 6:14:19 PM)
If he were wearing Jewish garb he wouldn't have been stopped
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.
(11/15/2018 6:18:47 PM)
This guy is publicly trying to defame Chasidic Jews
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 been routinely victimized by violent hate crimes from African-Americans for over 30 years.

The Crown Heights riots was the worst pogrom against Jews in the history of this country. And that it raged on for days with race-baiters like Al Sharpton adding fuel to the fire and publicly speaking out against Jews (as this guy is now doing) should never be forgotten. In recent times Jews in CH have been subjected to "the Kockout Game" stabbings, muggings, and all types of other hatred and harassment, Rachmana Litzlan.

Someone should publish a report of every hate crime that has been committed by blacks against Jews in CH over the past 30 years, just to set the record straight to the out of control situation. And the report should be presented to the politicians who are not doing enough to stop the madness and violence! Is it an accident this guy pulled his stunt just days after a whole slew of violent attacks happened against Jews in Crown Heights? I think not. (2 Israeli bachurim mugged at the bank at knifepoint, French Jewish tourist robbed by his hotel in CH, etc. )

There are many wonderful African-American people in the community who have a true spirit of love in their hearts towards the Jews. They should be reached out to for further dialog, not between our "two" communities... but as the Rebbe said to Dinkins after the riots... our one community, under One G-d.

The African-American community should also be taught the 7 Laws of Noach. But make no mistake, this guy who orchestrated this leftist, liberal publicity stunt against the Jews is not our friend looking for an honest dialog. He smeared the Jews on Facebook and elsewhere.

Crown Heights Jews are some of the most loving, tolerant, non-racist, holy people on the earth. Don't fall into this guy's trap, nor the trap of his leftist handlers who may have put him up to this, whomever they are.
(11/15/2018 6:24:48 PM)
Ch resident
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 torah without permission.

My son didn’t take the Torah. The owner of the torah was asked. My son was returning the Torah. We all spoke about it.

We are educated people. We can tell the difference between someone stealing a torah or any object. We really need to ask ourselves did we do the right thing here. Did the chassidic man do the right thing by aggressively asking Mr. Webster What are you doing with the Torah. I’m sure if the chasidic man would have said good morning or better boker Tov and mr Webster answered boker Tov there would have been no issues. We in crown heights need a very big reality check. We need to be nice. I called the phone number on BMC and left a message. I am looking forward to speaking with Mr. Webster I hope he calls me back.
(11/15/2018 6:32:57 PM)
Hypocrisy and Apolegetics
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.
(11/15/2018 6:33:06 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 6:33:46 PM)
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...
(11/15/2018 6:36:58 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 6:42:36 PM)
Do I have to look like you to look Jewish?
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.
(11/15/2018 6:42:47 PM)
Use your intellect not emotions stop being a liberal
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
(11/15/2018 6:47:40 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 6:49:04 PM)
What does it mean to "look Jewish?"
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.
(11/15/2018 6:49:47 PM)
Jewish Mother? Proper conversion?

I would ask this of ANY non-orthodox Jew!!!
(11/15/2018 6:52:26 PM)
Very sad
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.
(11/15/2018 6:53:05 PM)
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....
(11/15/2018 6:53:07 PM)
Can someone explain?
I see that he has a Facebook picture with Linda Sarsour. The famous antisemite. Can he explain ?
(11/15/2018 6:56:32 PM)
Why explain?
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?
(11/15/2018 7:00:27 PM)
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
(11/15/2018 7:01:57 PM)
One person defending him in all these comments
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.
(11/15/2018 7:09:30 PM)
Your Response is Racist
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 I don't know what is.
(11/15/2018 7:09:51 PM)
I can haz Torah
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.
(11/15/2018 7:10:13 PM)
Calm Down!!
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 not in the ark. Sometimes, life teaches us lessons in most traumatic ways. I'm sorry for you. PS: You can feel safe. No one will come after you.
(11/15/2018 7:16:24 PM)
Keep up the good job Crown Heights
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.
(11/15/2018 7:23:33 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 7:26:07 PM)
Sick people
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.
(11/15/2018 7:27:36 PM)
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!
(11/15/2018 7:27:54 PM)
Not "looking 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.
(11/15/2018 7:28:13 PM)
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

(11/15/2018 7:31:51 PM)
Claims of racism
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.
(11/15/2018 7:32:43 PM)
64 why explain Sarsour?
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.
(11/15/2018 7:34:41 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 7:37:32 PM)
To everyone who is saying he should’ve said “I’m Jewish”
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.
(11/15/2018 7:39:52 PM)
Can someone explain?
I see that he has a Facebook picture with Linda Sarsour. The famous antisemite. Can he explain ?
(11/15/2018 7:44:03 PM)
Actions of...
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.
(11/15/2018 7:47:18 PM)
Diversity in the Jewish Community is a Blessing
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.
(11/15/2018 7:49:19 PM)
Crown heights has changed.
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.
(11/15/2018 7:49:26 PM)
He Owes Us Nothing
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.
(11/15/2018 7:50:04 PM)
If he has a picture with Linda Sarsour...
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
(11/15/2018 7:51:10 PM)
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 in Brooklyn perhaps in the area of Park Slope, and I'm sure the rabbi will welcome you with a good conversation.
Wishing you much luck.
(11/15/2018 7:51:13 PM)
thank you Yehudah
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.
(11/15/2018 7:51:56 PM)
You guys are blind
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
(11/15/2018 7:52:51 PM)
To #76
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.
(11/15/2018 7:55:31 PM)
A Creature?
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.
(11/15/2018 7:57:31 PM)
Friend of Yehudah
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.
(11/15/2018 8:04:13 PM)
Shame on the other commenters.
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.
(11/15/2018 8:11:33 PM)
#59 headline is correct
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.
(11/15/2018 8:12:30 PM)
this guy is a professional protester, loves the antisemitic BDS supporters linda sarsour and Julia Salazar. I dont believe a word of this..
(11/15/2018 8:27:42 PM)
Sorry State of Affairs
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.
(11/15/2018 8:29:27 PM)
I'm sorry this happened, Yehuda. The last thing we need in today's current climate is Jews attacking Jews.
(11/15/2018 8:30:37 PM)
After reading this I expected to see an outpour of support and apologies, but instead it’s a classic case of blaming the victim
(11/15/2018 8:37:25 PM)
Yehuda ,a black man can't have Torah but a black Jew can
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
(11/15/2018 8:37:33 PM)
I’m sorry you had to go through this Yehuda!
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.
(11/15/2018 9:02:46 PM)
This liberal activist makes no effort to hide his true colors
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”...
(11/15/2018 9:06:42 PM)
I am so sorry
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.
(11/15/2018 9:10:49 PM)
Rabble rouser is right
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.
(11/15/2018 9:16:29 PM)
Why does a conservative need to rent a Torah Scroll to perform a bar mitzvah ceremony?
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 them?
Some info is missing here!
ALSO: Let's see the surveillance videos, to verify this story.
(11/15/2018 9:16:58 PM)
The silver lining in this story
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 half a brain see this more clearly.
(11/15/2018 9:33:07 PM)
Seperating Reason from Emotion
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 him exit the building with it). This is an inner city issue btw.

3) Anyone who is saying that a white non Jew would have been treated differently is all hypothetical and not based in reality.

4) Racial profiling is not racist. If I as a chasidic Jew goes to a hotel that is having major issues with the Chasidic clientele I will be viewed more suspiciously. This carries over in every part of life. One decided to trust another individual based off certain triggers etc. When I go out for a drink in a spot that is used very often by community members of mine for dating purposes I'm treated differently and I understand. I understand that on a nightly basis these people probably don't spend a lot and sit there for hours.

5)Interesting to note that all people coming out of the woodwork has been silent on the 4 or 5 hate crimes that has happened in crown Heights in the last month alone perpetrated by blacks against Jews. I think it really raises a question on how pure the intentions are.

6) Everyone uses statistics all day long. Yes the chance of a black man in Crown Heights not dressed in any identifiable garbs is statistically very low vs a white man without a Kippah of being Jewish is statistically higher.

7)It's very insulting to our community to being called out in such a strong fashion when in fact we as Jews have 51 percent of all religious hate crimes are committed against us. Yet we barely here a word and now an incident that is far from clear is making the outside all up in arms.

(11/15/2018 9:37:37 PM)
The irony
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.
(11/15/2018 9:47:11 PM)
To be expected
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.
(11/15/2018 9:47:49 PM)
The Comments on Here are Revolting - Identify Yourselves
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 be awful to a human, for racist (etc) reasons, without actually referring to that person's skin colour (etc). Trump is a great example. Throwing words like "globalist" around. Are we really going to pretend like he isn't dog whistling?

There are far too many of you blaming the victim instead of calling out the people who are at fault, the so-called Jews who decided to play vigilante and physically intimidated this man who has devoted many years to the Jewish community.

Perhaps Jews should spend less time pointing fingers at non-Jewish people and look inward. You may not like what you see, but it's time some of us face some hard truths about who we've become as a people. I for one am deeply ashamed of the behaviour of these Jews, and they should apologize. They should all take some diversity workshops. If you expect the rest of the world to treat us with respect, then you had better well treat everyone else with respect. Remember that thing called the Golden Rule? Pretty much the bedrock of all major religions? Not that complicated people.

I stand with Yehudah Webster. And I'm positive God does as well.

(11/15/2018 9:51:29 PM)
Torah needs respect
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.
(11/15/2018 9:52:40 PM)
Stop calling him “victim”
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.
(11/15/2018 9:54:30 PM)
How he is a Jew ?
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 .
(11/15/2018 9:54:44 PM)
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
(11/15/2018 9:59:51 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 10:05:41 PM)
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.
(11/15/2018 10:06:18 PM)
It is not about being racist it just being uncommon. You should have explained your self on the spot.
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.
(11/15/2018 10:10:06 PM)
Ahavas Yisroel
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 aggresive hostile mob demanding a person explain himself. How dare we demand someone to explain themselves. Who do we think we are? What happened to chabad? Who are we anymore?

Will we ever get back to a time where we are mindful of how the Rebbe would react?
(11/15/2018 10:14:58 PM)
This is fake news by a fake frum-Jew-hating bigot
From his actions it is obvious he was setting himself up for trouble.

There is no racism here!
(11/15/2018 10:15:46 PM)
To #58
What makes you think that this was wasn'tt born Jewish?
Real Jews are only white? Check your Jewish values!6
(11/15/2018 10:22:18 PM)
Yehuda it's not racism
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.
(11/15/2018 10:24:05 PM)
84 I am sorry that won't cut it
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.
(11/15/2018 10:24:53 PM)
So What????!!
Chill everyone, its not such a Big Deal to go crazy about. Maybe it was racist, maybe it wasnt, WHO CARES??????
(11/15/2018 10:31:56 PM)
If Yehudah had said he was Jewish...
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.
(11/15/2018 10:39:27 PM)
Boruch Hoffinger
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?
(11/15/2018 10:40:35 PM)
So much for self-reflection
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.
(11/15/2018 10:42:04 PM)
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
(11/15/2018 10:46:18 PM)
You cant have ahavas YISROEL for a lo Yehudi!
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!
(11/15/2018 10:57:43 PM)
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
(11/15/2018 11:00:36 PM)
Live and let live
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 and Israel. Bernie, another Jew who hates and attacks his own people. And Webster likes that type of guy.
(11/15/2018 11:06:12 PM)
This guy is a bum
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.
(11/16/2018 12:05:31 AM)
Like in Israel news
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 and beautiful and don’t let these guys take up any space. They’re not worth it.
(11/16/2018 12:14:07 AM)
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.
(11/16/2018 12:33:55 AM)
An intentionally orchestrated event to put down Hassidic Jews = Racism by the orchestrator
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 deed. He's teaching a school security guard how to shoot. He means no harm. Will we give him the benefit of the doubt?

This guy, walked into the chasidic equivalent of JFK holding a Torah. He's not a member of the community (or even Jewish) and not dressed as a dressed as a Chassid. Does he deserve the benefit of the doubt?

On FB, he's being applauded by some ignorant members of our community. Some of them even write articles and believe that they are leaders in the community.

My politics often tend to be to the left of most of the community, but my opinions are my own. I do not develop my opinions like there's an opinion popularity contest (unlike those 'leaders' who applaud him because their so-called leftist politics and beliefs trump their religion and community).

Yes, there is racism in this community which needs to be rooted out. But let's call out racism when it occurs and not when it doesn't occur. Let's not call out our community where it has done nothing wrong.

There are Jewish Orthodox Chassidic black Jews who are fully loved and accepted into our community.

This was not an act of racism. This was an act of a non-Jewish man, dressed as a non-jewish man, who carried a Torah in the heart of the Jewish community fully knowing the strangeness of it all. Knowing he is not accepted as a Jew. Knowing that he has not made an attempt to convert to Orthodox Judaism. Knowing that he is therefore not considered a member of our tribe. And he cries wolf when called out!

He intentially orchestrated an event where he would be accosted and then posts it on Facebook defaming a religious community for not accepting a conservative convert as a Jew and then frames it as white on black racism.

Consider it for a second, maybe he is the racist?
(11/16/2018 12:37:14 AM)
He looks like a Jew
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 explain himself? Why didn't he say a passuk? Do you think that would really help? They decided he was a thief and a scoundrel before they laid eyes on him, just like you all decided he was wrong and decided to chashud on a kasher.
(11/16/2018 12:39:21 AM)
We have far to go
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.
(11/16/2018 12:42:21 AM)
It's Backwards!
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!
(11/16/2018 12:49:07 AM)
He should have explained!
Sorry. He's what you call a "gas lighter" passive-aggressively egging people on, and then blaming them.
(11/16/2018 12:55:13 AM)
Emes - Truth
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 decide not to share with the original man who stopped you and asked where you are going with the Torah, and that is understandable.

Had you shared with the original man, this story would be different.

Now on to the Chassidic Jews.

You see, Chassidic Jews in crown heights are nice and accepting people, however they do require an internal security force to help prevent assaults and robbery (which are unfortunately common in crown heights and generally perpetrated by African American youth).

When something suspicious occurs, this security force will spring into action - appearing in masses - and yes, all Chassidic looking Jews. Once someone acts suspicious, it will be hard for them to easily slip out of the mess (no matter what they say), just as it were if someone jokingly said they had a bomb at an airport, even though they clearly don't. The security team is required to do their due diligence and not accept the suspects words at face value. This is for your security as well.

As mentioned by so many others, Torah's have been stolen in the past and a reality is that the color of your skin does make you a more likely suspect in such a case. Even if you were wearing a Yarmulka (as a robber many times will try to fit in).

The Commentators.

Mr Weber sees this story as race, we see it as robbery in crown heights, the reaction and the need to be careful and protective.

Those in the community who are defensive, have all the right to be, as Mr. Weber publicly posted his story and got it so far as to have COL cover it too. But to claim race wasnt a factor is simply a lie....which doesnt need to be said.

Profiling is an important defense mechanism and is done regardless of what people think or claim. It is also a natural instinct for most people.

Those who are defending him in the comments and see it as sinas chinam etc. or ahavat yisrael are simply looking at this from the angle of race. I personally believe it's about robbery, not race. If he were to be called derogatory names, then the story would be about race. If he were an orthodox Jew who is black, but wasn't given an Aliya when he asked for one for no other reason that his color, then that would be a racial story.

Mr Weber seems to have a lot of energy and trying to make this world a better place. This type of energy may need some better focusing, as a FB post like his does not help his agenda to make the world a better place, rather it divides - as can be seen in the comment section.

Regarding color, there are commentators who are being helpful and letting us know that jews come in many skin tones. Yes this is true, but what isn't is that very few Jews look like Mr. Weber - each country and place has defining features. For example, Black Jews from Ethiopia generally have a more oval shaped head and a certain pitch to their color (probably due to the hot African sun), while a middle eastern Jew would have a lighter complexion. There are very few Jamaican black Jews, Haitian Black Jews or American Black Jews. Most Black Jews from these places are converts, with only a handful being born Jewish.

And finally regarding him being Jewish - it truthfully does not have to do with the story, but to clarify, if he is a conservative convert, he is not Jewish.

And Finally COL

We know you love headlines and you scored big here, receiving well over 100 comments, provoking emotion and getting a bunch of people worked up - those who commented and those who didnt.

The title is completely misleading.

I think it is also time to upgrade your comment section to connect it with a facebook profile or some other authentication method, so you have more reliable comments. Many news websites already do this.
(11/16/2018 1:25:22 AM)
Looks can deceive
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.
(11/16/2018 1:51:01 AM)
No excuse
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.
(11/16/2018 1:54:28 AM)
Hidden camera social experiment
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?
(11/16/2018 2:57:31 AM)
Whose Sefer Was It?
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.
(11/16/2018 4:10:06 AM)
Reply from Assemblyman Dov Hikind
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.
(11/16/2018 4:19:05 AM)
I can't believe this nonsense justifying mob violence
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.

(11/16/2018 4:21:17 AM)
Cultural Appropriation
Being a progressive, surely Mr Webster should have been wise to the problematic nature of his cultural appropriation.
(11/16/2018 4:34:23 AM)
#11 is absolutely your riight
You are spot on
(11/16/2018 4:46:03 AM)
Unacceptable behavior from our communities
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 himself are putting the blame on him, instead of where it belongs: on those who judged him without cause.
(11/16/2018 4:58:33 AM)
Being a liberal and being a religious Jew is not only possible, it is praiseworthy
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 that he is a Jew hater. You are the Jew hater, for attacking Bernie Sanders, and for supporting the people who tried to attack Yehuda Webster.

Who are you to decide what the "correct" political affiliation is for religious Jews? Who are you to oppose the words of so many Orthodox, including Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who espouse liberalism?

(11/16/2018 5:03:15 AM)
to all
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.
(11/16/2018 6:30:45 AM)
Rethink your definition of racism
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 really just a system that gives power and privilege to one race over another. In Yehuda’s case, of course this was a racist event. And if these men had done the same thing to a woman carrying the Torah, it would have been a sexist event. And if a group of black men had surrounded a Chassidic Jew trying to transport a Torah, that would be anti-Semitic. Discrimination comes in many forms, but trust in the person who was discriminated against to define their experience and don’t argue semantics. White people have been programmed to keep these systemic biases in place, so saying “that’s not racism” doesn’t just suppress Yehuda’s voice, it also absolves you of any responsibility to do Tikkun Olam around this serious issue. Do better. All of us white people, and especially us white Jews need to do better.
(11/16/2018 6:49:07 AM)
Where is all this hate coming from?
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.
(11/16/2018 7:34:21 AM)
A Jew Is a Jew Is a Jew
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.)
(11/16/2018 7:45:04 AM)
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.
(11/16/2018 7:48:42 AM)
victim has zero interest in dialogue from get go
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.
(11/16/2018 7:56:31 AM)
Everyone look at 142
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?
(11/16/2018 8:27:41 AM)
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 level of hate and dismissive approach you will find in Yehudah’s entourage, that is a particular product currently in mass-production on the radical left. Hashem should help, because this is not going to be a meaningful discussion. They are emotionally furious, not intellectually curious. Moshiach now.
(11/16/2018 8:35:32 AM)
Stop Racism in Our Community
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 how we "jews" look like. I can tell you, I do not look like an Eastern European Jews, or a jew from Ethiopia one of the oldest Jewish community does not like a white Jew or the same as a Mizrahi Jew. Therefore, I do not understand the overemphasis of "looking jew" unless your racist stereotype makes you think that all Jews are white. Finally, as very proud Sephardic Jew, we have the best food in our diaspora.
(11/16/2018 8:56:34 AM)
(11/16/2018 8:56:44 AM)
You all prejudegd the story
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.
(11/16/2018 9:11:15 AM)
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?
(11/16/2018 9:29:35 AM)
The long short way or the short long way
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.
(11/16/2018 9:41:16 AM)
Sad situation
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 the Tanaka, Jews, and Israelites were always diverse in colour, accent, etc. What ought to define his a Jew “looks” is gamilut chasidim...deeds of loving kindness. Kind of ironic that the Chassidic didn’t live up to their nomenclature. I suspect that the way the first person approached Yehudah was not polite, and maybe that’s why he responded so abruptly. However, fire is not best fought with fire. With the rise in anti-semitism, Jews ought not to be fighting other Jews. That’s simply not kosher.
(11/16/2018 9:46:35 AM)
Is this a joke ?
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 would NOT be proud. You make me sick. Living in CH doesn't give you a title, doesn't put you above anybody. A lot of people are racist and denying it is helping them continuing. And being white and say that what a black person goes through in this community is not racism when you never experienced it, it just doesn't make sense.
(11/16/2018 9:54:20 AM)
156 no sorry
If he can hang around with Linda Sarsour then he does not look Jewish! It's a soul thing...
(11/16/2018 9:56:09 AM)
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, especially in front of a Shul. Add the fact, that the Torah was in a plastic bag and not wrapped in a Tallis.
(11/16/2018 10:29:51 AM)
Many beautiful answers
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!
(11/16/2018 10:35:48 AM)
I’m not French but please be patient
#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

(11/16/2018 10:40:12 AM)
To 147
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.

(11/16/2018 11:07:10 AM)
Re: Racist Garbage
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 Jewishness.

- "He didn't explain himself." Did you read the article? While he rebuffed the first attempt to question (something he was entitled to do), no subsequent explanation seemed to work for the harassers or defuse the situation. By his account, even his housemate Hannah's attempt to explain - indicating where the Torah came from and why he had it - was not accepted. The mob only (begrudgingly) accepted the say-so of the police. This was lawless and unruly behavior - embarrasingly so. Indefensible - and knowing that this kind of response is possible, I can't blame anyone for refusing to indulge it and just jumping into a Lyft car.
(11/16/2018 11:11:54 AM)
To 161
“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.
(11/16/2018 11:14:44 AM)
What would you do?
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 do if they suspect a person is stealing it without evidence?
Let's keep in mind the following:
1. Everybody in crown heights knows each other, so I'm sure nobody knew who he was.
2. If he was wearing a black hat and jacket like the other Chabad hasidim there, would they have had the same reaction? If Nissin Black was the man taking the Torah, would he have been attacked or would he have been left alone?
3. It seems from the victim's own words that he was somewhat combative with his accusers and not friendly enough to try to explain to them who he was. That in itself raises suspicions
(11/16/2018 11:15:20 AM)
Watch the video "A Million Years"
That's what a Jew walking with a Torah looks like.
(11/16/2018 12:11:46 PM)
set up
i bet he did this as a set up to cry racism, and now lets have a dialouge about it. pathetic
(11/16/2018 12:15:56 PM)
Carrying a Torah while black
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.
(11/16/2018 12:26:21 PM)
Att: Yehuda
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 crown heights) carrying a holy and precious Torah we are going to say something. And I’d like to think that you would say something too if you saw something similar. It’s not a very common sight to see someone in middle of the week transporting a Torah (in a plastic bag?). Our Torahs are physically and spiritually worth so much it’s hard to put into words.
I’d also like to add that if you had simply said something, even though you really didn’t need too, like “I’m Jewish”, or “I teach bar mitzva classes” or pointed to the Kippa on your head if it was there, all of this could’ve been avoided. If you did this to make a point- point taken, but as religious Jews we will always be cautious with our Torahs no matter the skin color carrying it.
(11/16/2018 12:51:46 PM)
Chaim Hershkop
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.
(11/16/2018 12:57:53 PM)
All wrong
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.

(11/16/2018 12:58:45 PM)
To everyone saying it wasn't racist or had nothing to do with blackness
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 does not have to be consciously malicious to be racist. Also, everyone who said he should have explained himself, A he shouldn't and B he did try eventually to do that. What little I know of my Jewishness from my father and grandfather tells me that we must question our actions always. That we cannot assume a position of righteousness or knowledge. That we must puzzle on and prove these positions always, in word and deed. If some one says an action is racist, why not first consider why they might be right? Why always leap to the defensive, why assert that you are a "good person" when you are missing an opportunity to be a better one.
(11/16/2018 1:02:46 PM)
Chaim Hershkop
Dear Good People of Crown Heights, my neighbors, my friends ùéçéå

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 scoffers.

I used the word "warned", because the Shulchan Aruch is telling use a fact of life, if you're going to do this - the right thing- there are going to be scoffers, don't be surprised, don't be shocked and most of all, don't pay attention, do what needs to be done, do the right thing.

Shame on COLlive for giving this hater a platform to vent hate - to foster the flames of racism - against the good people of Crown Heights.
Shame on all "our" people, from far and near who, without all the facts, are jumping on the opportunity to call their brothers and sisters horrible names. Who needs antisemitism when we have such lovely brothers and sisters? Do a Chesbon Nefesh, do Teshuva and ask forgiveness from all those you falsely accused!

Have a great, awesome, amazing, restful and inspiring Shabbos!
Walk with your heads up!
(11/16/2018 1:18:11 PM)
Shocked at racist comments
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.
(11/16/2018 1:21:03 PM)
I am comment 154
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
(11/16/2018 1:57:49 PM)
Responsible Leadership
To 1'70':

Q: what SHOULD people do if they suspect a person is stealing it without evidence?

A: STOP suspecting.
(11/16/2018 1:58:42 PM)
Such hypocrisy
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.
(11/16/2018 1:59:34 PM)

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
(11/16/2018 2:41:10 PM)
Not right
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?
(11/16/2018 2:48:17 PM)
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 recognize that and clarified the situation. It goes without saying that the Yid could have asked in such a nice way that he would not have gotten offended and would be force to explain.
(11/16/2018 3:04:58 PM)
Unfair comparison
#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 vicious libels.
(11/16/2018 3:09:29 PM)
Experiment time
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
(11/16/2018 3:18:37 PM)
So sorry
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. ❤
(11/16/2018 4:04:46 PM)
Ashamed but not surprised
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 the courage to say so, instead of blaming the victim.
(11/16/2018 4:11:45 PM)
Of course it's racist
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
(11/16/2018 4:20:54 PM)
Not surprising how close-mindedness rears its head among Hasidim
It wasn't like he was damaging or vandalizing the Torah, he was carrying it! show some restraint, for goodness' sake!
(11/16/2018 4:40:02 PM)
Random human
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.
(11/16/2018 8:17:39 PM)
Both Sides Were Wrong
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 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 the community might be a little more on edge than usual and just got overly cautious as a result.
He should have explained right off the bat he was a convert who rented the scroll and was taking it back. Instead he immediately got defensive, which raised more suspicions I'm sure, and it escalated the situation. If he had remained calm and calmly explained the situation, things might have turned out differently. Maybe not. Only HaShem knows.
But I see fault on both sides here in this situation.
(11/16/2018 8:39:18 PM)
Better a torah should be stolen than a fellow jew go through this
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
(11/16/2018 8:51:27 PM)
It's not just 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.
(11/16/2018 8:55:45 PM)
You’re all ignorant
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.
(11/16/2018 8:56:42 PM)
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.
(11/16/2018 10:00:21 PM)
How do you justify a threat to safety?
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.
(11/16/2018 10:13:51 PM)
Pathetic responses
No one owes you an "explanation" of anything other than your racism and poor education quality
(11/16/2018 11:34:23 PM)
Not racist???
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.
(11/17/2018 12:51:54 AM)
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!
(11/17/2018 7:24:08 AM)
classic, just classic
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. You all think none of those dozens of blocking the vehicle did anything wrong, their yelling and escalation was *totally* appropriate and just, because *a black man* wasn't doing what they wanted. This is racism in action.

You should all be very, very ashamed of yourselves. You'd think the Jewish people, of anyone, would understand what systemic oppression and bias looks like, and how it manifests in action... but evidently not.
(11/17/2018 3:33:52 PM)
Arrogance !
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.
(11/17/2018 4:05:17 PM)
Chaim Hershkop
#189 Don't call anyone a coward while being anonymous, that's...oh wait, that's cowardice, truly cowardice!

(11/17/2018 5:09:47 PM)
Don’t confuse with the facts
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?
(11/17/2018 6:25:00 PM)
Comments on shabbos
Interesting that comments were written on shabbos. That shows where the racism complaint is coming from. Religious Jews understand how precious a torah is
(11/17/2018 6:33:16 PM)
What does it mean?
What does it mean to "look Jewish". I find this repeated comment perplexing.
(11/17/2018 7:35:38 PM)
Drama King - Job Well Done
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, let me explain" and not try to turn this into a drama.
(11/17/2018 8:09:41 PM)
He is NOT Jewish
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."
(11/17/2018 8:31:27 PM)
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 goyim don't to as you. And since you love goyim so much, no problem, HaShem sends his rebuke via your favorite role models, who've arrived en mass with an important message:

STOP suspecting your own.

STOP WICH HUNTING for transgressors, transgenders, anti-vaxers, pro-vaxers, undesirables, criminals, so that you can burn them at the stake

DONT TOUCH their private medical files (even if you are the financial board of a certain school).

No you are NOT entitled to no medical explanation

Humans have RIGHTS.

If you really bleed to be like them, begin by standing up for protecting an individual's RIGHTS. They have plenty to teach us in this field.
(11/17/2018 8:56:37 PM)
To 191 through 202
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"
(11/17/2018 9:03:19 PM)
Go-ds right hand man
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 the doorway a Sefer Torah leaned on the wall with the atzei Chaim standing from the floor
I mentioned this to the neighbor on the next block who’s house the Purim party was at !
Learn Torah is the best, Respect the Torah is a must !
I understand there are a lot of aveiros that have to be amended and atoned for !
Instead of stay thirsty my friends as the most interesting man in the world 🌎 🌍 I have say be careful my friends
Chachamim be careful with your words ! Shalom !
(11/17/2018 9:15:03 PM)
Re: 208
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.
(11/17/2018 9:21:48 PM)
The racist card.....Cute
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.

(11/17/2018 9:26:34 PM)
Twisted anti-Hasid logic
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?
(11/17/2018 9:33:31 PM)
Yehudah points a finger of guilt on himself with the second paragraph
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 when..."
(11/17/2018 10:04:01 PM)
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
(11/18/2018 1:44:09 AM)
Reverse racism
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 know.
I am sure that if there was a non-religious looking yuppy white man carrying a Torah scroll, it would raised the same suspicion and reaction. Yehuda is attempting to turn this into racism and covering up by saying that he has nothing against Chasidim. If he cared to resolve this matter in a Torah and more peaceful way, he could have easily explained himself and he could have reached out directly to shomrim or Community leaders sharing his grief and having a direct dialogue, rather than posting publicly and besmirching a concerned Chasidik community. He has successfully potentially created a wedge between blacks and Jews or between different types of Jews. What a shame when one acts this way in the name of being concerned about racism.
(11/18/2018 2:38:15 AM)
Are hasidics racists?
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.”
(11/18/2018 5:30:33 AM)
My Chabad shul includes black and Hispanic converts
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".
(11/18/2018 10:29:42 AM)
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
(11/18/2018 12:59:32 PM)
217 is clearly an anti-Hasid
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 address
(11/18/2018 1:26:35 PM)
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.

(11/18/2018 3:08:02 PM)
@ 221 Racist
Growing up reform you probably didn't meet too many black people, especially the kind we live with here in crown heights.
(11/18/2018 3:21:31 PM)
188 our religion?
conservative "judaism" is "our religion?"
(11/18/2018 3:34:46 PM)
@ 217 Angry
"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.
(11/18/2018 6:04:42 PM)
Not racial...
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 not one.See the article here - a black professor arrested for breaking into his own house because he couldn't produce ID - made it a racial issue - surely any person climbing in a window of a house without ID will be suspicious!
(11/18/2018 7:07:59 PM)
To 227
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.)
(11/18/2018 9:28:45 PM)
as i see it...
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.
(11/18/2018 11:51:04 PM)
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 of the collective. Remember every time you meet someone that you don't know who they are so before you make a fool of yourself, remember that. People are not their appearance nor does every person carry the burden of the sins of everyone who looks like them.

3. This entire episode is exactly what is wrong with religion. A mob attacking a man for carrying a Torah? Accusing him of thievery? This is God's will?

There is only ONE thing that we know, for sure, was made for God and faith aside, it's not the Torah. The only thing we know, for sure, that God made was OTHER PEOPLE. If you are using the Torah to harass another human, you clearly have not been reading what's inside nor do you understand the nature of religion.

(11/19/2018 6:48:08 AM)
how so many commentators on col lack daas torah
(11/19/2018 11:52:29 AM)
Anti semites
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 semite. Listen how he says Israel killed 10,000 people, when they defended themselves and killed 1,000 who were mostly terrorists and it was proportionally amazing compared to other countries not even fighting in such populated areas and that aren't next door to them. So yes, Bernie Sanders is an anti semite
4) This Webster guy is guilty of cultural appropriation. He's not Jewish and should stop trying to steal Judaism from others
(11/19/2018 12:21:55 PM)
Where is the video of this?
(11/19/2018 12:46:11 PM)
@ 230 and other geniuses
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 you would be singing a different song.
(11/19/2018 1:09:13 PM)
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.
(11/19/2018 5:55:33 PM)
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, people want to know who I am and what I’m doing there. They know I’m an outsider no matter how tznius I may dress. We have to listen and be aware of the cultural codes within these communities just like gentrifying whites shouldn’t impose their cultural expectations on the neighborhoods they move into.

Overall, there is plenty of racism within multiple Jewish communities and that’s something else to be dealt with. However, the very last thing any Jew or member of the Jewish community should do especially given the current political climate, is cast shame on our community.

-Tzipora Shulamis
(11/19/2018 7:25:38 PM)
What a Jew looks like
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 before they are no longer Jews.
We are not strong when we are constantly thinking about how others perceive us, when being Jewish is something we need to explain, when we look just like anyone else except we happen to identify as Jewish. Our safety and strength is in our unity as Jews looking like Jews.
When it stops being meaningful to Jews to adopt American dress and values (whether Republican values, Christian values, liberal values, Moslem values, Buddhist values, yoga values, hippie values or any value system other than Torah) we will find our own strength in a Torah-true voice.
Yehuda- I hope this serves as a wake up call. Your own brothers couldn’t identify you as one of us. Where are your peyos? Where is your beard? Where is your head covering? Where are your tzitzis? Or are you looking to straddle both worlds thinking you are safe, looking like a non-Jew? History has shown that the non-Jews will know how to find you no matter how well you think you fit in. Yes, you will still face discrimination among us. Sadly history has not yet taught us to put aside our differences in the kind of head covering chosen or skin colour. You will face disrespect. But it will be as a Jew, and at the end of the day you will ensure that your descendants remain a part of the Jewish people.
To the rest of the Crown Heights community, especially the young so bent on being like the yuppies next door, Yehuda’s story will be the story of your children, and your grandchildren won’t be Jewish. Wake up and dress like Jews, act like Jews, think and feel as Jews.
(11/20/2018 1:48:07 AM)
Wrong argument
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.
(11/20/2018 7:11:18 AM)
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 raised from generations of Blacks Jews. THEY ARE RACIST, they need to study Torah, and realize that G-d didn't just create them, and Brooklyn don't just belong to them. I'm sure their approach to Yehudah was not a kind one, because they already assumed because he was black, "and all blacks are thieves", that it was stolen. FYI black men aren't that stupid to steal a Torah and walk through Crown Heights in broad daylight with it unconcealed. Hassics must follow the laws of this land, they DO NOT own crown heights. Questions can be asked, but not in a "I know you stole that" tone. There is a way to ask to receive the answers you need to hear, if not it is none of your business. Torah teaches us not to judge. Most of them are are racist
(11/20/2018 9:04:12 AM)
To 239
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.
(11/21/2018 1:31:10 AM)
Gedalya Goomberg
To 239:
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.
(11/21/2018 2:26:33 AM)
To 240
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
(11/21/2018 10:05:48 AM)
This comment section is scary
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.
(11/22/2018 5:41:28 PM)
Comments section proves my disgust for zionists
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.
absolutely disgusting.
(11/30/2018 3:16:26 AM)
This isn't about racism, its about the ultra-right.
The ultra-right think they have a monopoly on what and who is Jewish enough for them. That's why he was stopped. In their view, he didn't appear Jewish "enough"

Israel is going to ruin over this same issue.
(12/27/2018 4:58:10 AM)
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