(By Sandy Eller)
A group of more than 40 senior Israeli officials met with members of Flatbush Shomrim in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon, hoping to gain insights that will benefit them on their home turf.
The meeting was arranged by Moshe Samuels, creator of The New Jew, an Israeli documentary that cast the media spotlight on American Judaism. Having filmed a segment of the series in Brooklyn in conjunction with Flatbush Shomrim in the pre-COVID days, Samuels reached out to Shomrim executive coordinator Bob Moskovitz to arrange a fall visit with the Israeli Local Authorities group, which was comprised of mayors, city council members and directors of regional and local councils. The delegates were an extremely diverse group, representing Israel’s Jewish, Muslim and Druze observant and secular communities, their visit to New York providing them with an opportunity to learn more about Jewish life in the United States.
“When I received the email, I was actually very flattered that they were reaching out to us and at the same time curious what wisdom we could impart,” Moskovitz told Yeshiva World News. “They wanted to see what it is we do, what our relationship with the police department is like, to know how we face with anti-Semitism today and to hear about hate crimes against Jews so that they could go back to their municipalities and see if there was anything they could build on.”
The meeting was held at Congregation Shaare Shalom on Avenue S, with approximately a dozen Flatbush Shomrim members also in attendance. Moskovitz, his fellow coordinators Steve Weill and Naftali Rosenberg all addressed the group, explaining how Shomrim works and the scope of its operations. Expounding on that theme, Moskovitz discussed some of the differences between Israel’s Civil Guard and Shomrim – while both are focused on security, Shomrim’s broad array of services also includes dealing with missing persons and domestic issues, gathering video footage to help fight crime, delivering oxygen concentrators during COVID and helping with storm relief after Hurricane Sandy.
“We explained how callers are happy to work with us because we have a warm Jewish heart,” said Moskovitz. “These people are our brethren and we care and they know that.”
The meeting also included a visit to Shomrim’s mobile command center, which in addition to being called into service to locate missing persons, is also deployed to act as a deterrent in high crime areas, sometimes by NYPD request.
One question raised by the Israeli delegates was how Flatbush Shomrim makes arrests.
“We told them that in Israel, the Civil Guard can do that, but we don’t do that here,” said Moskovitz. “We wanted to impart to them that we are not vigilantes – we follow the letter of the law, which is why the NYPD and local precincts work with us.”
The meeting ended on a positive note, with both sides feeling that it had been a successful afternoon.
“When they left, we got a lot of ‘kol hakavods’ and pats on the back,” said Moskovitz. “They were very impressed and considering that there a lot of patrols and a lot of organizations here in Flatbush we were honored that they asked to meet with us.”
Photo Credits: Lensky Photo
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)