Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chaim Weiss Murder: Reward for Info about NY yeshiva student killed in 1986

Received the following letter:

To whom it may concern,

I thought this was an Interesting shaila, as it is something I have been thinking about recently. 

The murder investigation into the Long Beach yeshiva killer was re-opened. If you do not remember the story, a boy Chaim Weiss was killed some 25 years ago in long beach yeshiva. The police never solved the case yet they suspected someone in the yeshiva committed the murder. I have always believed that the one who killed Chaim was a specific bochur. It is not based on anything other than age. behavior, and a few specific things about him. He also is appx the same size as the suspected killer was. I don't know this guy well, not do I know which yeshiva he learned in. Anyway, is it permitted halachically to tell his name to the investigator on the case that I suspect he may have killed him?

Rav Meir Treibitz told me -  in response to the above question - that someone who has information or even suspicions is obligated to report it to the police. I conveyed this psak to the one who wrote the letter and he said he will contact the police.

Anyone with information is asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at  1-800-244-TIPS , log onto the county Crime Stoppers Web site, or text code word NCCS and a tip to CRIMES (274637.)

Update HaModia of May 28 reports Mesivta of Long Beach asks for cooperation with police
  See also Hamodia's article on Crime Stoppers
The Nassau District Attorney felt that the productive way to gain the community’s cooperation and trust was to involve the Orthodox community directly.
Which is what brought Gregory Quinn, a 40-year veteran of the Nassau County police homicide division, and James Carroll, the lead detective in reopening the Weiss files, to Hamodia last Thursday.
         “We need you,” Quinn said at the meeting with Hamodia.
The yeshivah seconded the DA’s call, urging anyone with knowledge to come forward, in a statement released to the public on Tuesday.
“The Mesivta of Long Beach applauds the perseverance of the Nassau County Police Department as it commences the reinvestigation of the tragic but unsolved murder of Chaim Weiss in November 1986,” the release read.

“We at the Mesivta have met with the Police Department and pledged our full cooperation in the investigation. We encourage all who have relevant information that could prove useful to the investigation to extend their full support to this process.”

Huffington Post  The unsolved killing of a 15-year-old rabbinical student found bludgeoned to death in his dormitory at a suburban New York yeshiva in 1986 is receiving renewed attention from homicide detectives.

"There's somebody out there that knows a secret," said Lt. John Azzata, commander of the Nassau County Police homicide squad. "I'm looking for that person to give me that secret."
Flanked by the victim's father, county officials announced Tuesday they were increasing the reward for information leading to the arrest of Chaim Weiss' killer from $5,000 to $25,000. The announcement came at a press conference intended to spark renewed interest in the case, Azzata said, adding that police have already begun to receive telephone tips. [...]
Weiss was described at the time as a bright student. He was found bludgeoned to death in his room at a religious school in Long Beach, a Long Island community east of New York City, after he failed to show up for morning prayers. [...]
There were no signs that anyone broke into the room.
It was later revealed that the victim's body had been moved to the floor from his bed, where he is believed to have been slain with a sharp, blunt object. Also, a window in the dormitory room was left open despite late autumn temperatures that hovered in the low 40s. Some have suggested the moving of the body and the opening of the window were somehow related to the young man's religious faith.
On Tuesday, chief of detectives Rick Capece specifically addressed the Jewish community, saying that detectives were aware that witnesses may be reticent to suggest those who may have been involved in the killing without having "positive proof" of their involvement.
"We are sensitive to and respect that belief," Capece said. "However a homicide has occurred and we need any information that can help us solve this case and bring justice and peace to the Weiss family."
Anton Weiss, the boy's father, spoke briefly at Tuesday's news conference [...]
He noted his son's classmates would be in their early 40s by now.
"His classmates by now are married, are parents on their own and understand what it means to be a parent," Weiss said. "I am appealing to you and urging you in the strongest way, if you have any information that you feel the police might need in this murder investigation, I ask you, I urge you, to please contact the police department." [...]
===From my sefer Child and Domestic Abuse volume II my copyrighted translation
Maharam Schick (C.M. 50): [In the case of someone’s brother who had died suddenly and his sister‑in‑law is suspected of poisoning her husband. Based on Bava Metzia (83b) regarding R’ Eliezer catching Jewish robbers for the Roman the halacha would allow reporting her to the police.]. While that is the halacha, nevertheless that gemora itself indicates that it is inappropriate for gedolim to be the ones to report the transgressor to the secular authorities. This is also the view of the Rashba cited by the Beis Yosef (C.M. 388). An even greater proof against reporting transgressors to secular authorities – even when there is a possible danger in not reporting – is found in the Rambam. The Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 5:5) writes that if non‑Jews specify which Jew they want and they will kill all the Jews if he isn’t handed over – they should give him over. However the Rambam notes that if that wanted Jew deserves the death penalty he can be given over to save the others – but this halacha is not to be publicized. This is also the view of the Yerushalmi (Terumos 8:4)…. Consequently while one should not protest against those who follow the straight halacha and report the criminal to the authorities - which has many poskim to rely on - nevertheless the gedolim should not get involved in reporting these crimes but rather should be passive. This is as we saw with Shimon ben Shetach who did not have proper evidence that someone was a murderer - even though it was obvious – and therefore he did nothing. Also look at Sheilas Yaavetz (2:9)…


  1. i davened with chaim weiss's father (and chaim, z"l) for several years before and after. the family is NOT the type to take this lying down, and must have known what really happened.

    1. My cousin told me that this was well known that it was a Russian mob hit.

  2. if and when the police finally arrest the murderer,it won't be a pretty scene,this will be the biggest CHILLUL HASHEM since the infamous Reinitz murders in Hungary some 80 years ago

  3. when i was a kid and this happened they thought it was mob related or a worker in the yeshiva why should the now belive it was a student?

  4. I think there's a modern day machlokes about what can and can't be reported to the police.

    OU type hold that serious criminal matters, in the US, must be reported. Because it's dangerous, and US police is not viewed as antisemitic. Rambam writes obviously in cases of Natzis or other similar governments which are oppressive.

    Agudah says lo plug. Doesn't matter the government, as long as it's not Jewish we don't report. Unless in dire situations like that in the gemara, where there's an obvious threat. As a proof, the tana of the story (forgot his name) gave over robbers to the Romans, and they executed them. Where as we don't execute for theft.

    1. I don't know what your religion calls it, but our government calls that obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact.

    2. In most democracies, inaction ("not reporting") by an "ordinary" citizen (as opposed to officials or people in authority) is a crime only in the case where a minor is being abused, neglected or sexually exploited (details change depending on jurisdiction). Otherwise, there is no legal requirement for a pedestrian to report a crime. Obstruction of justice refers to withholding (or lying) when asked directly by an investigator. One would imagine accessory requires some action.


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