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‘I don’t like your energy,’ says Lyft driver, who attacked DC rabbi

A police report doesn't indicate a potential hate crime, but Menachem Shemtov told The Washington Post, “I don’t know what other energy he could be referring to.”

A Metropolitan Police Department car. Credit: Bob Korn/Shutterstock.
A Metropolitan Police Department car. Credit: Bob Korn/Shutterstock.

A Lyft driver kicked a Chabad rabbi out of his car in Washington, D.C., and attacked him on Sunday, sending the latter to an urgent care facility with cuts on his face.

Menachem Shemtov, 29, director of Chabad Georgetown, and the son and grandson of prominent Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis in the nation’s capital, told The Washington Post that he asked the driver to lower the music in the car. The driver, who looked much younger than the photo on the Lyft app suggested, turned the music off.

“He made a passive-aggressive comment about how I should book a quiet car next time,” Shemtov told the Post. “Then 20 seconds later, he said, ‘Get out of my car.'” Pressed for a reason, the man said, “I don’t like your energy. Your energy is kind of offending me.”

“He was just saying ridiculous stuff as an excuse or reason to get me out of the vehicle,” Shemtov told the Washington Jewish Week. “He slashed me with his keys about an inch below my eyeball.”

“Videos of the incident, taken by both Shemtov and witnesses, show the driver punching and hitting the rabbi with a set of keys,” the Post reported. “The attacker fled the scene, according to a police report, which described his vehicle as a red Toyota sedan bearing the Maryland license plate 3FR1602.”

The Post added that video footage showed the driver following Shemtov out of the car “and yelling at him for slamming the car door. He then punched Shemtov in the face.”

“When the rabbi moved to take pictures of the car, the driver followed him and slapped him repeatedly with his keys, leaving cuts across Shemtov’s face,” the paper reported. It quoted the rabbi saying that he didn’t fight back, and that “this is the most aggressive thing to happen to me.”

Shemtov told the Post, “I don’t know what other energy he could be referring to. … I don’t know what to attribute to me other than who I am.”

“Lyft unequivocally condemns this behavior. Upon learning of this incident, we deactivated the driver and we’ve been in touch with the rider,” a spokesperson for the ride share app told JNS. “We encourage riders and drivers to report harassment, discrimination or safety concerns in the Lyft app.”

In a section marked “suspected hate crime,” the District police checked “no,” per a copy of the incident report which the Metropolitan Police Department shared with JNS.

Per the incident report, there was “a verbal dispute” between Shemtov and the driver, who “demanded” that Shemtov exit the car. After Shemtov walked away, the driver followed yelling, “‘Why’d you slam my
door?’ multiple times, and subsequently struck [Shemtov] about the face with a closed right fist.”

“[The driver] returned to the vehicle, and [Shemtov] followed to stop [the driver] from fleeing the scene. [The driver] then struck [Shemtov] about the face multiple times with his hands,” per the report. It noted that two other witnesses were present, including one who recorded it on her cell phone.

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