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Former Jamaican Hip Hop Exec- Turned Orthodox Jew, Shot Dead In Brooklyn, NY.... (WATCH VIDEO)

Yoseph Robinson's remarkable journey from petty criminal to rap impresario to observant Jew began in sunny Jamaica and ended in bloodshed on the floor of a Brooklyn liquor store.

Along the way, Robinson touched dozens of lives and made believers out of skeptics who said a black man with his past had no business being an Orthodox Jew.

"I would look at him and say, 'Yoseph, how can you be black and be Jewish?'" a grieving pal, Joane Tomas, 25, said. "And Yoseph would just look at me with this big smile and say, 'It's not about color, it's about faith.'"

Robinson, 34, who once made music about mayhem, started using verses from the Torah to pen hip-hop songs. He was also writing a book about his conversion when his life was cut short.

"Funny it is how a man's journey can take him to some strange places," Robinson said on his website. "I came from the craziest place."

A crazed gunman gave Robinson's story a tragic ending Thursday when he robbed the liquor store and shot the convert twice in the chest. At the time, Robinson was trying to protect his girlfriend Lahavah Wallace.

Now Robinson's loved ones are planning a funeral Monday night at Shomrei Hadas Chapel on 14th Ave. in Brooklyn. He'll be buried in Jamaica next to his grandmother, Pearl, relatives said.

Robinson was in the midst of a divorce and custody battle, accusing his California wife of keeping him from visiting or calling their 6-year-old daughter, court records show.

He also accused her of straying from an observant lifestyle, which he called "psychologically damaging to our daughter." The divorce was pending and a judge granted him joint custody less than a month ago.

He is also survived by a 14-year-old son in Philadelphia, and an 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter in Virginia, relatives said.

"He was a guy that changed his life around," said Benjy Ovitsh, who employed Robinson at the MB Vineyards liquor store. "This is the kind of guy we should all emulate."

Gail Levi, 40, recently heard him speak to a group of about 50 at a synagogue in Long Beach, L.I.

"He was a gangster with all the money, women and drugs that power could buy," Levi said. "But he realized it was empty and wanted to change."

One of Robinson's sisters, Jackie Walters, called him "the best brother in the world."

"He was loved not only by the Jewish community," Robinson's brother-in-law, Shawn Walters, said. "He was loved by everyone he met. He was an inspiration for everybody."

He was born Chester Robinson and raised by his grandmother in Spanish Town, Jamaica. At age 12, Robinson joined his parents in Midwood, but life in the U.S. was nothing like the utopia he had imagined.

Four years later, according to his bio, Robinson "entered the world of drug deals, street crime and violence" in the Bronx where he was arrested for disorderly conduct and peddling pot.

His cousin, Shamar Linton, who was in the liquor store when he was killed, said Robinson once owned No Exit Records in Los Angeles. He was supposed to put out an album on Sept. 11, 2001. Robinson ended up "getting in trouble" before the release of his album, Linton said.

Robinson drove a Lamborghini and had all the bling he wanted. Despite his material wealth, he felt empty inside. At age 23, he opened a Torah and had a revelation.

After two years of intense study, Robinson moved back to Brooklyn and immersed himself in Jewish life. He ditched the Italian sports car and rode the subway. He worked at the liquor store to stay afloat. In time, Robinson became a beloved figure much in demand by Jewish groups eager to hear his story.

"Most of us Jews in Brooklyn are not that interesting," said a neighbor, who asked not to be named. "Yoseph was the most interesting and charismatic person."

On Facebook, Robinson wrote that to resist the pull of his old life he only had to see his tzitzis, a fringed garment worn by observant Jewish men, and "a smile spreads across my face."

"I am content with my decision," he wrote.

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Comment by Kufunya Ife on September 1, 2010 at 6:28pm
Sad Sad Sad state of Mankind mind set May his soul rest in peace
Comment by Mignon Cassell on August 29, 2010 at 12:00pm
May His Soul Rest In Peace an may his life be an example to all the lives he touch. RIP.
Comment by MrOneLove on August 28, 2010 at 8:27pm
I look at this killing with great sadness, this was a young blackman in the prime of his life, he's life taken by another blackman who thought it fit and justified in his own warp mind to kill this youngman for little and nothing..
Would he the killer, kill this man if he was dress in Hasidc Garb and White..
And the answer to my own question is a resounding NO.......
Comment by caribbeanrose on August 27, 2010 at 9:07am
That God they caught that thug who did this. I hope he rots in jail
Comment by MrOneLove on August 25, 2010 at 5:15am
This is someone I've seen on a few occasion on Nostrand Ave,dress in the Hasidic Garb, he clearly stood out being a blackman..Regardless of his religion or faith, he was a human being, for he's life to end the way it did was not right..Whoever did should be punish to the full extent of the law....
Comment by caribbeanrose on August 24, 2010 at 12:16pm
Sad, sad. they better catch the killer
Comment by Nichelle on August 23, 2010 at 11:09am
Pretty Sad. Who are we to judge anyone. Like he said It's not about color. Sammy Davis Jr was Jewish!
Comment by kolawole osakue on August 23, 2010 at 9:51am
Who Jah bless no man curse.
Comment by S. Young on August 22, 2010 at 9:40pm
This is so heartbreaking. Especially being that it happened right here in Brooklyn,my borough. R.I.P Yoseph ,you've motivated me to stay true to myself&keep The Most High FIRST.
Comment by regina mccray on August 22, 2010 at 2:53pm
What goes around comes around. The person who did this useless crime will have there day. R.I.P my brother.

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