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Ghetto Brother from Warrior to Peacemaker

Hosted By: The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)

On the 50th anniversary, graphic novelist Julian Voloj, shares the true story of Benjy Melendez, a Bronx legend, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang, his multiracial gang promoting peace rather than violence. Outlined in his graphic novel, “Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker,” Julian shares how Benjy Melendez, from the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, managed to extract incredibly positive energy from this riot-ridden era. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.

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