Yosef Robinson, HY”D

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Jamaican born 34 year old Ger Tzedek Yosef ben Avrohom Robinson, former hip-hop star turned Orthodox Jew was shot to death in N.Y. at 2388 Nostrand Avenue and Avenue J where he worked at a kosher wine store, while trying to protect his girlfriend during an attempted robbery.

Robinson immigrated to the U.S. along with his sisters in 1989.

According to his website, Yoseph was active in bridging the gap between local Jews and African Americans and frequently spoke about his experiences as a black, Jewish man at local synagogues.

Raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica by his Grandma Pearl, Yoseph Robinson, like most of the island kids, thought of the United States as a kind of utopia. It was a fantasy come true when he and his two sisters were finally able to join his parents in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, New York in 1989.  At the age of 12, he exchanged his slower-paced life of mango-picking, fresh water fishing, and swimming for an Americanized one filled with stylized clothes, girls, and worries about being cool enough.

Constant disobedience in school and a strained relationship with his parents during his teenage years led Yoseph to drop out of high school when he was just 16. Influenced by a group of older kids and in need of money, Yoseph entered the world of drug deals, street crime, and violence. His reckless lifestyle took him to the Bronx, Philly, and finally LA, where he invested in a lucrative hip hop label.

But by the time he was 23 years old, Yoseph knew he had to leave the affluent Hollywood scene behind in order to physically and mentally survive. He turned to Judaism as a means to surrender control, accept humility, and educate.

Yoseph persevered through many highs and lows in his lifetime, but converting to Judaism was his most challenging transition. His struggles, transformation, and experiences as a black Jewish man in the United States have inspired Yoseph to write a book (website).

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