Midwood, NY – Remarkable Journey of Hero Clerk Yoseph Robinson O”H’s Life; Police Offer 12,000 Reward

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    Yoseph Robinson was gunned down this week by a robber (below) at the MB Vineyards liquor store where Robinson worked.Midwood, NY – He grappled with a gunwielding thug to save his girlfriend and paid with his life.

    Dramatic surveillance photos show the valiant attempt by a Brooklyn liquor- store worker to fend off a gunman trying to steal cash and jewels from the love.

    Wallace, who was helping Robinson write a book, said they were joking around and laughing when the gunman entered the store demanding her jewelry.

    Wallace said Robinson yelled, “Leave her alone” and approached the man.

    After the masked robber strode into MB Vineyards in Midwood and trained his pistol on Lahavah Wallace, her beau of about a month, Yoseph Robinson — a Jamaicanborn convert to Orthodox Judaism — lunged over the counter to grab the weapon.

    “I froze. I’ve never had a gun pointed at me before,” said Wallace, 37, who had been visiting Robinson, 34, at the store. “Yoseph grabbed the guy’s wrist. The guy pulled back and pointed the gun back at me. Yoseph reached for the gun again.”

    Robinson grabbed the thug, buying Wallace time to flee.

    Dramatic surveillance clip below show the valiant attempt by a Brooklyn liquor- store

    “He jumped over the counter and wrestled with the guy with the gun and told me to go,” Wallace said.

    She ran into a backroom and hid with Yoseph’s cousin, Shamar.

    She heard three shots. “We were scared,” Wallace recalled. “I didn’t know if the guy was still out there.”

    She called 911. When it seemed safe, they came out and saw Robinson bleeding on the floor.

    “He was struggling to breathe,” she recalled.

    Robinson — whose 6-year-old daughter, Chana, lives in California — was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital.

    “I’m numb. It’s a nightmare,” Wallace said.

    “I didn’t see that [the gunman] took anything. He took the most precious thing in the store.”

    Police has released video footage showing the clerk trying to disarm the intruder.

    Wallace said she began dating Wallace – a former hiphop record executive turned Orthodox-Jewish convert – about a month ago.

    Police said Robinson’s remarkable journey from petty criminal to rap impresario to observant Jew began in Jamaica.  

    Along the way, friends and relatives said Robinson touched dozens of lives and made believers out of skeptics who said a black man with his past had no business being an Orthodox Jew.

    Robinson, who once made music about mayhem, started using verses from the Torah to pen hip-hop songs. He was also writing a book about his conversion when his life was cut short.

    He was born Chester Robinson and raised by his grandmother in Spanish Town, Jamaica. At age 12, Robinson joined his parents and immigrated to New York eventually dropped out of school and headed to Los Angeles, where he staked a claim in the record industry. At age 23, he left the glitz of the hip-hop life and converted to Judaism.

    Wallace said it came as no surprise that Robinson stuck up for her.

    “That’s who he was,” she said. “He was the type of person that, whoever would have been there, he would have done that.”

    “I would look at him and say, ‘Yoseph, how can you be black and be Jewish?'” a grieving pal, Joane Tomas, 25, said. “And Yoseph would just look at me with this big smile and say, ‘It’s not about color, it’s about faith.'”

    “Funny it is how a man’s journey can take him to some strange places,” Robinson said on his website. “I came from the craziest place.”

    Now Robinson’s loved ones are planning a funeral Monday night at Shomrei Hadas Chapel on 14th Ave. in Brooklyn. He’ll be buried in Jamaica next to his grandmother, Pearl, relatives said.

    Robinson was in the midst of a divorce and custody battle, accusing his California wife of keeping him from visiting or calling their 6-year-old daughter, court records show.

    He also accused her of straying from an observant lifestyle, which he called “psychologically damaging to our daughter.” The divorce was pending and a judge granted him joint custody less than a month ago.

    He is also survived by a 14-year-old son in Philadelphia, and an 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter in Virginia, relatives said.

    “He was a guy that changed his life around,” said Benjy Ovitsh, who employed Robinson at the MB Vineyards liquor store. “This is the kind of guy we should all emulate.”

    Gail Levi, 40, recently heard him speak to a group of about 50 at a synagogue in Long Beach, L.I.

    “He was a gangster with all the money, women and drugs that power could buy,” Levi said. “But he realized it was empty and wanted to change.”

    One of Robinson’s sisters, Jackie Walters, called him “the best brother in the world.”

    “He was loved not only by the Jewish community,” Robinson’s brother-in-law, Shawn Walters, said. “He was loved by everyone he met. He was an inspiration for everybody.”

    His cousin, Shamar Linton, who was in the liquor store when he was killed, said Robinson once owned No Exit Records in Los Angeles. He was supposed to put out an album on Sept. 11, 2001. Robinson ended up “getting in trouble” before the release of his album, Linton said.

    Robinson drove a Lamborghini and had all the bling he wanted. Despite his material wealth, he felt empty inside. At age 23, he opened a Torah and had a revelation.

    After two years of intense study, Robinson moved back to Brooklyn and immersed himself in Jewish life. He ditched the Italian sports car and rode the subway. He worked at the liquor store to stay afloat. In time, Robinson became a beloved figure much in demand by Jewish groups eager to hear his story.

    “Most of us Jews in Brooklyn are not that interesting,” said a neighbor, who asked not to be named. “Yoseph was the most interesting and charismatic person.”

    On Facebook, Robinson wrote that to resist the pull of his old life he only had to see his tzitzis, a fringed garment worn by observant Jewish men, and “a smile spreads across my face.”

    “I am content with my decision,” he wrote.

    Police are offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the  masked gunman.


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