Rabbi Turns Personal Tragedy Into Inspirational Message for America Suffering From ‘Racial Divide’ (VIDEO)
A Brooklyn-raised rabbi whose mother was murdered in the wake of the 1991 Crown Heights race riots has turned his personal tragedy into a source for inspiration, amid increasing racial tensions in the United States.
Rabbi Avraham Lapine captured the message in a video — labeled “A Jewish response to America’s racial divide” — which was posted on the site Chabad.org on Tuesday, and has been widely circulating ever since.
In the clip, Lapine describes the New York area where he grew up in the 1990s as having “gone mad.” Violence, he said, “was etched into my childhood memories.”
For three days in August 1991, the Crown Heights Jewish community became the target of racially fueled violence, after a black child was accidentally struck and killed by a car in the motorcade of the leader of the Chabad Hasidic sect Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Following the accident, an Orthodox Jewish man was murdered by a black youth in retaliation.
A few months later, Lapine says in the video, he came home from school and was “told that my mother had been murdered by a black man. I was five years old. How was I to move forward? To maintain my inborn respect for all of mankind after experiencing firsthand the cruelty that had torn my life apart?”
Lapine — who currently works as a campus rabbi at the University of Missouri — recalled a teaching he learned from the Rebbe that has carried him through life, and which he instills in his own children and students:
“Black, white or Hispanic, all are created by the same God and created for the same purpose, to add all good things around them,” the Rebbe said.
“Our human value is not our social status, our class or our skin color,” Lapine elaborates in the video. “Our value is that we are created in the image of God. We all have inherent worthiness and deserve respect. With this message we can truly be ‘one nation under God.’”
According to The New York Times, Mrs. Phyllis LaPine was killed on February 6th 1992 during a burglary at her home at 680 Lefferts Avenue shortly after returning home from shopping at a nearby supermarket. Her assailant stabbed her repeatedly, spattering a wall with blood. Unemployed handyman Romane LaFond — who was 24-years-old at the time — was found guilty of the crime.
Watch Lapine’s message in the video below: