Chabad in the crosshairs

Chabad in the crosshairs

Over the years, the popular outreach group has often been a target of hate

The community responds with a show of affection to vandalism at Chabad Jewish Community Center of Flagstaff, Ariz. KNAU Public Radio via Facebook
The community responds with a show of affection to vandalism at Chabad Jewish Community Center of Flagstaff, Ariz. KNAU Public Radio via Facebook

Easily identified as Jews because of their distinctive garb and well-known because of their presence around the world, members of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic sect are often the public face of Judaism. And they — and their institutions — are frequently the targets of anti-Semitic attacks.

From the infamous 1991 Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn’s racially mixed neighborhood, to last week’s fatal incident at a Chabad House near San Diego, the outreach-oriented organization is increasingly in the news as much for its status as a target as for its embrace of non-Orthodox Jews.

Here are some attacks on Lubavitch Jews and their sites in recent decades:

1991 – Yankel Rosenbaum, a university student from Australia, is fatally stabbed at the start of the Crown Heights riots, a three-day uprising that begins when a car in the convoy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe accidentally strikes and kills 8-year-old Gavin Cato, the son of Guyanese immigrants.

1994 – Lebanese native Rashid Baz shoots at a van on the Brooklyn Bridge carrying 15 young Lubavitch students. Three are injured, and one, 16-year-old Ari Halberstam, dies of his wounds.

Chabad House in Mumbai after it was attacked in 2008.

2008 – During an Islamist attack on several sites in Mumbai, India, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg are taken hostage and fatally shot in their Chabad House. Their 2-year-old son Moshe is protected by his nanny, Sandra Samuel.

2008 – Two men shout anti-Semitic epithets at Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal in Berlin and throw a lighted object at his van.

2013 – Chabad emissary Rabbi Ovadia Isakov is critically wounded in a shooting attack near his home in Derbent, Russia. He is airlifted to a hospital in Israel, where he recuperates.

2014 – An apparently mentally disturbed man reportedly screams “I want to kill Jews,” and stabs a 22-year-old Israeli student in the Lubavitch “770” Crown Heights headquarters.

2014 – A Chabad rabbi and his wife are violently assaulted in their home in Nairobi, Kenya. The couple, Shmuel and Chaya Notik, run a Jewish center for travelers.

In 2014 a student was stabbed at Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Wikimedia Commons
Chaya and Rabbi Shmuel Notik, pictured with their children, were violently attacked in their home in Nairobi, Kenya. Facebook via

2019 – Two members of the Lubavitch community are attacked on the streets of Crown Heights.

2019 – A window is smashed on Shabbat at the Chabad of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

2019 – Swastikas are painted on the window and scrawled on the walls of a new Chabad building in Flagstaff, Ariz.

2019 – One worshipper, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, is killed, and three are injured, including Brooklyn native Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, in a shooting on the last day of Passover at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, Calif.

Steve Lipman is a staff writer for The New York Jewish Week, NJJN’s sister publication. He can be contacted at

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