Rutgers Chabad Hosts Dinner with Federation, NJ State Police and Israelis
The 6th Annual welcome dinner for the Israeli Police delegation of the Police Unity Tour was held recently at Chabad House, Rutgers in New Brunswick. This is an annual tradition showcasing the bonds between the local Jewish community and law enforcement with Israel’s police. The delegation was headed by Major General Avi Bitton of the Central District Command & Chief Superintendent Yoni Zeitak of Israel Police. In attendance were Sean Kilcomons of NJSP Official, Amy Figler Keller, CPP, law enforcement from Tennessee, Nassau County Police Department, Colorado, Essex County and DC Metro Police.
Also in attendance were fifteen Israeli police officers who have joined yearly with their American counterparts to honor police officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. They rode their bikes to Chabad headquarters on College Avenue in New Brunswick where they joined students, rabbis, state police and a representative of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey for dinner. The group of officers traveled from Israel to participate and the riders/officers must apply and be selected for the trip and undergo a selection process. Other Jewish officers from the US, including those from NY and NY/NJ Port Authority Police States, also participated and rode with the group.
“We were honored to welcome the Israeli police officers into our community,” said Federation Director of Security Initiatives Amy Keller. “This is another of the many examples of the bonds shared between our law enforcement and Israel and how we work with law enforcement to keep our community safe in the face of rising antisemitic incidents. It was an honor and a privilege to meet these officers and discuss NJ and Israeli policing. Their dedication to others, their time, dedication, and their selfless act to honor those they have never met is commendable…. Inspirational…”
Lt. Colonel Sean Kilcomons deputy superintendent of the New Jersey State Police also attended the dinner and ceremony. “No matter the color of our uniforms or the patch on our shoulder, we work together as peace officers to protect the people we serve,” said Kilcommons. “It’s an honor to have the Israel Police travel 5700 miles to participate in the Police Unity Tour and honor our fallen police officers in America.”
Along with a presentation of honor and thanks, several Rabbis addressed the group with stories from the Torah and Rutgers University and blessings.
This year’s ride by the Israeli Police also honored the memory of Deptford Township Police Officer Robert Shisler, who died of his injuries May 7, two months after being shot in the line of duty, further cementing the strong link between New Jersey and Israel. The program’s mission statement is actually, “We ride for those that died.”
The program started with 18 riders on a four-day fund-raising bicycle ride from NJ to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC in 1997. Today the Unity Tour has chapters up and down the East Coast and two in California. 2600 participants, nationally and internationally, will make the trip.
The connection with Rutgers Chabad began six years ago when Rutgers Chabad Administrator Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police chaplain, was asked to give the invocation at the World Trade Center to many hundreds of police officers about to set off from Manhattan to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington. This year’s ride kicked off in Parsippany.
After he finished, a group of Israeli officers approached him and inquired in Hebrew about his role.
“I explained my role as chaplain,” said Carlebach. “They were very happy to hear there was a rabbi in such a prominent role.”
Carlebach asked them where they were stopping along the way and when told they would spend their first night in New Brunswick, he immediately invited them for dinner at Chabad House.
While in the area this year, the Israeli police were escorted by Carlebach to Chabad World Headquarters in Brooklyn and visited the Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s grave in Queens.
Carlebach also went to Washington on May 14 to meet up with them and other Shormrim members. As well as the fraternal organization for Jewish police officers, at the end of the four-day ride for the memorial to fallen police.
They also met for dinner at the Washington home of Brock Pierce, chair of the Brock Pierce Foundation who endowed the men’s and women’s residence halls at Rutgers Chabad.
DEBRA RUBIN has had a long career in journalism writing for secular weekly daily newspapers and Jewish publications. She most recently served as Middlesex/Monmouth bureau chief for the New Jersey Jewish News. She also worked with the media at several nonprofits, including serving as assistant public relations director of HIAS and assistant director of media relations at Yeshiva University.