NY Daily News
Photos by Zelig Shaul for COLlive.com
Tearful mourners remembered Yoseph Robinson last night as a proud Jamaican – and a proud Jew – who turned his life around only to die at the hands of a gun-wielding thug.
Loved ones and friends filled a Brooklyn funeral chapel to eulogize Robinson as an inspiring figure who transformed his life through the Torah and died a hero protecting his girlfriend from a cold-blooded robber.
As the mourners paid homage, cops appeared to be closing in on the 34-year-old victim’s killer.
“May God avenge his death,” a rabbi prayed over the plain wooden casket bearing Robinson’s body.
The rabbi said that in the afterlife Robinson will be named Yoseph Ha Tzdek – which means The Righteous.
Sobs of the grief-stricken echoed through the Orthodox chapel where women and men were divided by a traditional white curtain.
Detectives think they know the name of the masked man who gunned down Robinson as he worked at MB Vineyards liquor store in Midwood Thursday night, but have yet to nab him, a police source said.
“It seems like this is a botched robbery,” said the source, adding the killer barked “Give me everything you got!” before blasting Robinson in the chest.
At the funeral, nearly 1,000 blacks and Jews crowded into the Shomrei Hadas Chapel and over 100 more listened to the service on loudspeakers outside, a testament to the bridge Robinson built between the two communities.
“The Jewish community saved his life,” Robinson’s brother-in-law Shawn Walters told the mourners. “They didn’t judge him because of his past. He was a proud Jamaican. And a proud Jew.”
Born in Jamaica, Robinson moved to New York at the age of 12 and as a teen strayed into “a world of drug deals, street crime and violence,” he wrote in his unfinished memoir.
At the age of 23, a bookstore clerk handed him a Torah, and he gave up a dream of becoming a hip-hop record producer and converted to Judaism.
“I just felt it’s so important to be here. It’s solidarity,” said friend Beth Sabo of Queens. “He was a very special guy.”
Robinson will be buried Thursday in Jamaica, next to his beloved grandmother, Pearl.