Among Righteous Men: A Tale of Vigilantes and Vindication in Hasidic Crown Heights

Among Righteous Men: A Tale of Vigilantes and Vindication in Hasidic Crown Heights

by Matthew Shaer
     
 

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It began as a very loud, perhaps violent, argument between two incompatible roommates at a yeshiva dormitory at 749 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Things seemed to be settling down, until members of the Shomrim, Crown Heights's Hasidic Community police, arrived. What occurred over the next several minutes transformed a disagreement over a mattress into

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Overview

It began as a very loud, perhaps violent, argument between two incompatible roommates at a yeshiva dormitory at 749 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Things seemed to be settling down, until members of the Shomrim, Crown Heights's Hasidic Community police, arrived. What occurred over the next several minutes transformed a disagreement over a mattress into a major incident that would tear at the fabric of a close-knit community and expose many of its secrets to the prying eyes of the outside world.

In Among Righteous Men, journalist Matthew Shaer delivers a fast-paced and compelling account of the brawl and its lengthy and unsettling aftermath. He explains what the fracas at 749 had to do with a religious schism within the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch Hasidic community, why it resulted in unprecedented criminal prosecutions in which Jews testified against Jews, and how it forced one man to make a wrenching choice between standing up for what he believed in or stepping back from the good fight to save his brothers and close friends from possible prison terms.

Drawing on personal interviews with major figures on both sides of the schism, as well as court transcripts, press coverage, and historical documents, Shaer creates a tense, dramatic narrative peppered with concise and pertinent background information. He reveals why the "Shomrim Six," who attempted to quell the disturbance in the dormitory, were charged with multiple felony counts, including assault, and he explains why the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office was reluctant to prosecute these defendants. He also provides a clear and careful explanation of the seemingly minute differences between two factions within the Lubavitch community.

Shaer presents all of the major events in this riveting tale through the eyes of the alleged victims and perpetrators, police officers, and prosecuting and defense attorneys, assisted by commentary from longtime Crown Heights residents. You'll experience the initial melee through the eyes of those who claimed to have been beaten by the Shomrim, follow the prosecutors as they build their case, and listen as the Shomrim Six debate whether to accept a plea bargain or risk prison time with a not guilty plea.

Among Righteous Men is a gripping read filled with car chases, tragic figures, racial strife, and tense courtroom scenes as well as insights into Hasidic life and culture. It is part fascinating exposé, part gritty inner-city true-crime story, and a 100% page-turner.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470608272
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
10/25/2011
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

MATTHEW SHAER, formerly a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, has written for New York magazine, Harper's, the Washington Post, and Slate.

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