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Ari Halberstam's mother reflects on her work to stop hate, 29 years after the murder of her son

Ari Halberstam's mom fighting to end hate 29 years after son's death
Ari Halberstam's mom fighting to end hate 29 years after son's death 02:21

NEW YORK -  Wednesday marks 29 years since a gunman shot at a van of Jewish students on the Brooklyn Bridge, injuring three teens and killing 16-year-old Ari Halberstam. 

Since then, his mom has dedicated her life to fighting to eradicate hate. 

"I miss him every single day," Devorah Halberstam tells CBS2's Hannah Kliger. "I will never be able to have a free day, or be at peace."

Nearly three decades later, she mourns every day like it's the first.

"To think that he was murdered, he was slaughtered because he was a Jew was not something I will ever be able to swallow," she says, fighting back tears. 

Flowers from well-wishers stand on her table. Photos of him can be found all over the house. Halberstam says the day his life ended was the day her life's mission changed.

"Preserving his legacy," she says. "Making sure that I do everything within my power to stop hate in any form that it takes, against any people."

For more than a year, she has been the chair of the NYPD Hate Crime Review Panel, a group of five diverse civilian leaders who provide oversight over the NYPD's hate crime investigations. 

Yet, hate still manages to rear its ugly head. According to the NYPD Hate Crimes Dashboard, 2021 saw 531 hateful incidents, while 2022 saw 607. NYPD data shows that Jewish people are, by far, the most common target.

Despite the uphill battle, Halberstam says her hope lies with the youth. In 2005, she created the Jewish Children's Museum in Crown Heights which bears Ari's name. Its main mission is to educate young people and promote tolerance.

"I will never give up on the kids in this country," she explains. "We need to reach out to them before hate gets to them."

Halberstam's killer, Rashid Baz, was sentenced to 141 years in prison. More than a decade after his conviction, he admitted that he shot the students because they were Jewish. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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