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Rabbi Fatally Shot in Florida Remembered as Man of Peace at Funeral

 Friends of Yosef Raksin following his funeral procession past the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights Monday morning.
Friends of Yosef Raksin following his funeral procession past the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights Monday morning.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — Hundreds of people gathered in Crown Heights Monday morning to pay their respects to a Hasidic rabbi and father of six from the neighborhood who was shot and killed Saturday while visiting family in Florida.

Rabbi Yosef Raksin, 60, had been walking to synagogue in North Miami Beach at 9 a.m. when he got into an altercation with two young men who then shot him, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department. He died at a nearby hospital.

There had been no arrests as of Monday morning and police couldn't provide more information about the altercation that lead to Raksin's death. A spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing.

Mourners at Raksin's funeral were anxious for more information about his death, which some fear may have been fueled by anti-Semitism despite police saying they had not found any signs that Raksin's death was a hate crime.

The large crowd watched as Raksin’s funeral procession made its way past the Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway Monday morning, surrounded by news vans, police vehicles and photographers. Family and close friends touched the van that held Raskin's body as it slowly rolled down the parkway. Many in the crowd reflected on the man they remembered as “humble” and “peace-loving.”

“We can’t even grasp that it actually happened,” said Rabbi Shea Hecht, 60, the chairman of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education who was also a close family friend and colleague of Raksin’s.

“I must tell you, I’m walking around numb since Saturday night — since I heard the news.”

Hecht, like many at the funeral, wanted answers about how Raksin died, wondering aloud whether the shooting was the result of a robbery gone wrong  as some news reports have indicated — or if it was a hate crime.

“Will we know their motivation? We really don’t know,” Hecht said, adding that “the police have to do their job diligently.”

Yehuda Kaploun, 46, who lives on the same block as Raksin’s son and daughter in North Miami Beach, but was visiting New York when the shooting took place, also wanted police to do more.

“We don’t know if this is a hate crime right now, we don’t know if this is a robbery,” he said. “We don’t know the details. But until we find out, it needs to be investigated with the full resources of the government.”

Investigators still had not identified any suspects on Monday, a Miami-Dade Police Department spokeswoman said Monday.

The family of Yosef Raksin will be sitting shiva at 738 Empire Blvd. between Albany and Troy avenues, according to an announcement on CrownHeights.info, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.