"When you see a Jewish child getting beaten, you have to do something to stop it. You don't think." - Yoel Kellner, truck driver (Kol Mevasser interview)
When a friend sent me the security footage of this event on Friday (5/27/2022), I immediately had to share it on twitter.
This is what I posted:
The reason why I was so excited was because, as a survivor of child abuse, there was something so empowering - or hopeful - about seeing a random person stepping in to stop a bully.
I guess I wasn't alone. It must've resonated with many people, because we got a half million views in less than 3 days.
Many of you asked for 'the rest of the story.' So here is a short summary of what happened directly from the suspender-wearing-hero truck driver, Yoel Kellner. He gave a yiddish interview over the dial-in hotline Kol Mevasser. Here is a summary from his perspective: (free translation, edited a bit from the 20-minutes interview to put the story in proper order)
"I was having a bad day... I deliver for caterers and restaurants and there were some issues with scheduling, so I left Monsey earlier than usual to beat traffic. Around quarter to 6 in the morning, I saw a 16 year old Yeshiva student crossing the street by Park Avenue and Spencer - walking toward Bedford Ave (in Williamsburg, Brooklyn).
"My nature is to observe things when driving, as I often drive during late-night hours. When I see something suspicious I usually call shomrim - like when I've seen people breaking into vehicles, etc.
"But this morning, I saw a man who looked dangerous and suspicious, and I decided to keep an eye out. To wait and see. Next thing I remember, the man is on the floor. I don't remember shoving him. I still cannot believe my reaction to the situation.
"The man stood up and shouted antisemitic comments. The 16-year-old looked terrified. Meanwhile, I called shomrim (community watch). Another hasidic man came to help and the antisemite walked away, shouting that he's going to sue me for violently hitting him.
"I shouted back that he was the one who had been violent. I tried to follow the man but he got away and then I waited for shomrim to arrive.
"I had two questions in my mind: was I legally allowed to hit the man? And also, was the yeshiva student ok?
"Later on, I saw the security footage. I was shocked at my behavior but also proud of what I had done. When you see a Jewish child get beaten, you have to do something to stop it. You don't think.
"The surveillance cameras didn't show where the 16-year-old had gone and I was worried for him. He seemed like a quiet person. He looked a little traumatized.
"Then I started getting messages calling me a hero. I think most people would do what I did. But I was still nervous about the yeshiva student who had been attacked.
"Then I got a message that said, "thanks for saving my brother." Through that, I got in touch with the yeshiva student and asked how he felt. Thank Gd he's ok. Together we went with shomrim to file a proper police report and we met with everyone in the police station.
"Shomrim and the police are on the case. They haven't yet found the antisemite but I'm sure they will. It's a matter of time.
"My message to everyone out there is that when you see someone getting abused and beaten, don't stop and think. Do the right thing."
Yoel Kellner is a hero. He saw a Jewish student being abused and he dropped what he was doing to protect the young man. His actions give me hope.
WATCH OUR LATEST VIDEO ABOUT A DIFFERENT YOEL. ALSO A HERO:
And here's a toy replica of Yoel Kellner's truck. It should come with a little suspenders-wearing mentchie. 😉
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