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Rabbi Seriously Hurt In Hit-And-Run On Long Island

WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Police on Long Island are seeking the public's help in finding the driver in a hit-and-run crash that left a 70-year-old Nassau County rabbi with serious injuries.

It happened on Hempstead Avenue in West Hempstead around 7:30 p.m. Monday.

County police detectives said a white Dodge Ram pick-up truck was traveling south on Hempstead Avenue when it struck Rabbi Jordon Kelemer as he attempted to cross the street in front of the Young Israel Jewish Center.

Police said the driver fled the scene.

Kelemer was thrown 35 feet and suffered injuries to his head and hips, CBS2's Jessica Borg reported. He was found by a passerby and taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Police said the pick-up truck, possibly a 2004 or 2005 model, had a long box tool rack in the back and likely has driver side, front-end damage.

"If you see this vehicle in your community, please call Crime Stoppers," Nassau County Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said. "I would plea to the driver to please come forward, so the family can have some closure with regard to this."

The 70-year-old rabbi has served the orthodox synagogue for the past 33 years.

"He is always there for people in good times and bad times," congregant Toby Geschwin said.

Friends said the rabbi has 13 children and celebrated the birth of a great-grandchild this past weekend. They said serving the community and his family is his life's work.

Rabbi David Warshaw said his colleague is an internationally respected Hebrew scholar and humanitarian.

"This is a man who probably never hurt a flea, and for someone like this to be in this kind of a situation now, is really hard to imagine," Warshaw said.

Police said there were no eyewitnesses but surveillance video is helping their investigation. They said the rabbi was not walking in a crosswalk, and they are looking into whether the driver was exceeding the 30 mph speed limit.

Kelemer is in stable condition, which came as welcome news to the nearly 700 families who rely on him.

"If you suffer a loss, the rabbi will be there," congregant Jay Kaplowitz said.

Anyone with information regarding this accident to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.  All callers will remain anonymous.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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