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Testimonials

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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, July 24, 2017

Following the release of surveillance footage last week showing a possible suspect in the torching of Brooklyn’s “mitzvah bus,” authorities have now released another video of the suspect. In the second footage, captured around the same time as the June 26 arson, the suspect, an African-American male in a black cap and T-shirt, can be seen inside a store, according to the NY Post. 

Created a year and a half ago by Crown Heights artist Lev Scheiber, the “mitzvah bus” was an iconic sight, delighting both children and adults as it drove past bedecked with vibrant colors and religious symbols while broadcasting Jewish music. The bus gained popularity beyond the community’s bounds after being featured in a YouTube music video by singer Benny Friedman for his song “I’m a Jew and I’m Proud.” The music video went viral, garnering over two and a half million views on YouTube.   

According to a June 30 New York Post report, the initial surveillance footage showed the suspect (an African-American male) walking in the vicinity of Flatbush’s Troy Avenue and Maple Street, where the mitzvah bus was parked at the time. Two hours after the suspect was captured on camera, the bus was discovered in its burned-out state. Investigators believe the suspect smashed the bus’s windows before setting the interior on fire and fleeing on foot. 

“I went to the bus today and it was completely destroyed. My initial reaction was it was a targeted act,” Scheiber said shortly after the incident, according to the Forward. “It’s a very splashy bus. It’s clearly Jewish.”

In a report, CBS New York urged those with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts to contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

Despite the loss of his mitzvah bus, which doubled as Scheiber’s art studio and school transportation for his daughters, the artist is not deterred, and has plans to create a replacement. The community is chipping in, with $4,000 already raised online to fund the creation of a new bus. 

“It represents the Jewish spirit and sort of old-school Crown Heights,” Scheiber explained to NBC New York.  

Scheiber described the bus to the New York Post as “a creative project,” one that “represented creative expression and the freedom to be yourself — a sort of good vibe vehicle that you didn’t see every day.”

The mitzva bus was created to instill Jewish pride. Scheiber, along with all involved in fund-raising for the new bus, are determined that no arsonist or vandal will be able to silence that message.

By:  Max Rozwaski