Written and Produced by Betty Astrizky, Corresponding Secretary
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
MESSAGE FROM HENRI PORTNER, PRESIDENT
As mentioned in the previous newsletter, a National Shomrim Zoom meeting was held on Sunday, September 27, 2020. I am very pleased to report that 12 chapters logged in, along with 7 National Shomrim Board members, 6 past presidents, 3 regional vice presidents and several chapter members and associate members. We had healthy and informative discussions on many topics, including the 2021 National Shomrim convention, membership, upcoming events and, of course, how we are all coping with the ongoing pandemic and the disruption to our activities and our personal lives. One idea that was met with great enthusiasm was a get together in Las Vegas in 2021. That will only happen when and if it is safe to travel. We are all anxious to travel once again, to see our friends in Shomrim, attend chapter events and have fun, but we must also remember the pandemic is still strong and we cannot risk jeopardizing our health. There will come a time, hopefully in 2021, when we can do all these again.
Past National Shomrim President and past NYPD Shomrim President Larry Wein invited a special guest to attend our Zoom meeting. Gabriel Bitton is the Police and Public Security Attache to North America for Israel and is currently based in Los Angeles. Larry met him when he was in California some time ago and struck up a friendship. Gabriel was excited to meet all of us and would like to try to form a Shomrim chapter when he returns to Israel. As of now his diplomatic status does not allow him to join National Shomrim as an associate member but he wants to be as active as possible with our organization and we are happy to have him join us.
NATIONAL SHOMRIM NEWS AND INFORMATION
Our convention, which was scheduled to take place on board the Celebrity Edge cruise ship in January 2021, will now take place most likely in a Zoom meeting. We will be voting in a slate of officers for the upcoming year as follows:
- Henri Portner – President
- David Rosenzweig – Executive Vice President
- Spencer Strauss – First Vice President
- Benjamin Gelber – Second Vice President
- Marty Turetzky – Treasurer
- Scot Pomerantz – Recording Secretary
- Betty Astrizky – Corresponding Secretary
- Jeff Grossman – Sergeant-at-Arms
- David Appel – Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms
- Shevy Berkovits – Marshall
As you see, all the current board members have advised they would like to continue in their current positions. Scot Pomerantz, immediate past president of National Shomrim and current president of Port Authority Shomrim, has indicated he would like to serve as the Recording Secretary. Scot was nominated by the Corresponding Secretary and his nomination was seconded enthusiastically by several other Board members. We are happy to have him on the Board once again.
We always welcome members in good standing from all active chapters, as well as associate members in good standings, who are interested in joining the National Shomrim Board and are willing to work to continue to make and keep this organization great. As per our Constitution, the slate must be presented 90 days before the elections, which is scheduled to take place in January 2021, so if anyone would like to submit their names for consideration, please do so before October 30, 2020.
We had some great suggestions at our Zoom meeting, including updating our National Shomrim website with images of patches or challenge coins on our homepage, and establishing social media accounts for our chapters and National Shomrim. Our friend and president of Shomrim of Maryland, Jeremy Silbert, has offered to help with setting up Instagram and Twitter accounts for National Shomrim and will manage them. These will be in addition to our Facebook page and website, which we need to update with current information. All presidents are asked to please forward current information about your chapters, including your board members, to the Corresponding Secretary so it will can included in the website. As always, please forward all current news and events, such as recruitment and other important items, to the National Shomrim Facebook page. They will be reviewed by the administrators of the Facebook page and included if appropriate.
We’re already planning our 2022 convention! Our official National Shomrim cruise planner Tony Lostumbo has made arrangements with Celebrity Cruises for our group to sail on a nine night adventure to the Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – the ABC Islands – on January 21, 2022. Celebrity is offering us two free perks from a choice of four:
- Free Classic Beverage Package for two, which includes two alcoholic beverages a day, valued at $80 a day
- Free prepaid gratuities for two, up to $30 a day
- $300 on board credit per stateroom
- Free Internet for two
The price for a balcony stateroom is $1,800 per person ($3,618 single supplement) plus tax of $118.94 per person. A $900.00 deposit is due at time of booking and is fully refundable until October 31, 2021. Many of our 2021 cruise attendees have rolled over their deposits to the 2022 cruise. If you’d like to book a stateroom please contact Tony at (954) 384-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org You can also contact our convention co-chairpersons, Marty Turetzky at (917) 774-7809 or Betty Astrizky at (516) 889-7984.
CHAPTER NEWS AND INFORMATION
Shomrim of Maryland will hold their next virtual membership meeting on Sunday, October 18, 2020, at 1000. The meeting will take place on Zoom and the meeting ID is 766 0460 5653 and the password is baltimore. For information please contact their president Jeremy Silbert at email@example.com.
Out of an abundance of caution, South Florida Shomrim has made the difficult decision to cancel their dinner dance, which was scheduled for Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Harvey Meshel, president of that chapter, along with the guidance of the board members of South Florida Shomrim, are hoping to resume activities next year, including their very popular all you can eat bbq, always scheduled for the spring, right before Passover. This year’s bbq was cancelled, as it was right at the outbreak of the virus.
NYPD Shomrim has scaled down their annual Memorial Service and Scholarship Breakfast to a short Memorial Service tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 15, 2020, at 0830, at the East Midwood Jewish Center, 1625 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11230. Due to restrictions on the amount of attendees the synagogue will allow, anyone wishing to attend must RSVP to NYPD Shomrim President Gary Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will not be any food at this complimentary service, again due to the synagogue restrictions. Please be aware this event may be cancelled so it is imperative that attendees contact NYPD Shomrim directly prior to attending. They are also planning their Annual Dinner Dance for March 25, 2021, at Da Mikele Illagio. Information will be in a future newsletter.
Jerome Cobert, President of Shomrim of Northern California, has several speakers lined up for their upcoming Zoom meetings, so if you’d like to join them please email him at email@example.com and he’ll give you the meeting info and password.
The Port Authority Shomrim Society will showcase their unique menorah, designed especially for their organization, on the eighth night of Chanukah, Thursday, December 17, 2020, at their annual Chanukah Menorah Lighting. Details on the location and time for this special celebration will be in a future newsletter, so save the date. They are also happy to announce that their website, www.PANYNJShomrim.org, has been updated. It now allows new members to apply electronically through the website. Payments for dues, donations, events and Shomrim merchandise for sale, including face masks, challenge coins, mugs and yarmulkes (tee shirts and other items to be added soon) can now be made thru Venmo: PAShomrim and PayPal: Treasurer@panynjshomrim.org. So come visit and shop til you drop!
NYPD Shomrim and Shomrim of Illinois have rescheduled their annual Mission to Israel for April 22 to May 2, 2021. For information and details please contact trip organizers Elliot Cohen in Chicago at (847) 778-7272; Sam Miller in NY at (347) 723-6709; or Gordon Nash in Florida at (561) 632-7764.
Mazal Tov to Rabbi Pinchas Weberman, chaplain of the South Florida Shomrim Society, on celebrating his 90th birthday! Til 120!
National Shomrim associate members Chief Gene Fixler and his son PO Brian Fixler were recently on stand by for the Presidential debates that took place in Cleveland. Great to know that father and son were on patrol for this important, and thankfully uneventful, moment in our nation’s history.
Shomrim of D.C. Co-President Brett Parson was recently interviewed on the newly launched podcast Justice Matters. Brett is a trailblazer in the Washington D.C. Police Department and discussed his work in the LGBTQ unit and also his recent involvement with developing, training, recruiting and rolling out a new program in his area, Bystandership for Police Officers around the USA. Please check out his interview on Youtube. It was also posted on the National Shomrim Facebook page.
Shomrim of Illinois was sad to announce the passing of Stacy Oliver, daughter of late past president Howard Patinkin, on October 6, 2020. Graveside services were held at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights. For those who wish to honor Stacy, donations may be made in her name to the Chicago History Museum. May Stacy’s memory be for a a blessing for her family.
We’d like to welcome two new associate members to National Shomrim! Harvey Morse, a retired Chief from Florida and a Deputy Sheriff, Administrative/Reserve, from Waynesville, North Carolina; and Olivia Fryer, an Officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in Green Valley, Arizona – doesn’t that sound like such a nice place! Welcome Harvey and Olivia, and we hope to meet you soon!
A forgotten history of the NYPD was remembered when the NYPD and the NYPD Shomrim Society honored a ten year old boy a century after his death. Ten year old Tobias Gellis was inducted into the NYPD’s Junior Police Force (JPF) in 1916. The JPF functioned from August 1914 to July 1918, engaging about 6,000 mostly Jewish boys in “police work” to keep them out of trouble. Their duties included “preventing swearing in public streets and games of craps as well as stopping the building of bonfires and smoking” among the neighborhood youths. They also acted as lookouts, alerting police officers to possible crimes. It was clear to the public and to the NYPD that they improved the day-to-day quality of life in the city. On July 10th of that year, young Tobias was ordered by the precinct captain to warn neighborhood children of the Lower East Side of Manhattan about recent cases of infantile paralysis. Most parents couldn’t speak English, as they were mostly immigrants, so the children had to translate this information to their families. Tobias was standing on the roof of his tenement at 209 Fourth Street and began to yell and, as the crowd below became noisy and unruly, he stepped backwards and fell off the roof, plunging to his death. On July 10, 2020, Tobias received the funeral he should have had, one accorded all members of the police force who die in the line of duty. The NYPD, preparing to celebrate its 175th anniversary, decided to commemorate Tobias’ death by bestowing upon him full NYPD honors. A procession, including members of the NYPD Shomrim Society, Police Explorers (today’s version of the JPF), and a rabbi, solemnly marched to Tobias’ grave at Mount Richmond Cemetery in Staten Island, NY, where he was buried 104 years ago with the help of the Hebrew Free Burial Association, an organization that was formed in the 1880s to assist with a proper religious burial for indigent Jews. Under rainy skies, bagpipes played and a trumpet sounded Taps. A cloth was removed to reveal his gravestone. In the moving ceremony young Tobias Gellis was formally recognized by the NYPD as a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice. The presiding officer, Inspector Terrence Hudson, ended his remarks by saying, “All members of the NYPD salute you Captain Gellis. Rest in peace.”
JOB OPPORTUNITIES! All members are reminded to “Like” our National Shomrim Facebook page. Job opportunities are posted there regularly, so it’s important that everyone ask to join the Facebook page so they can see the latest career choices. Not all of them are in law enforcement or fire fighting. Jobs have been posted with various agencies and the private sector as well. They are open and available to all members and their families. And if anyone hears of job openings, entrance exams, recruitments, please post it on the National Shomrim Facebook page and it will be approved.
CHAPTER PRESIDENTS! Two important reminders for our chapter presidents – please forward the newsletter to your membership, and if you haven’t done so, please pay your chapter’s dues for 2020. It is important to keep your chapter active, because it will allow you or your designee to be represented at National Shomrim events and vote on matters at upcoming meetings. Please let us know if there has been a change to your Executive Boards. If your leadership has changed, please notify the Corresponding Secretary at BAstrizky@aol.com and she will make sure our National Shomrim records are updated. And remember to encourage your members to “Like” our National Shomrim Facebook page. And also forward all your chapters upcoming events, as limited as they might be, so they can be included in the next newsletter. If we don’t know about it we can’t print it and we can’t tell our members about it!
ASSOCIATE MEMBERS! Although National Shomrim is at a temporary standstill, we are asking all associate members to please send in their dues of $18.00 for 2020. It’s so important to keep your membership active. It is always worth reminding everyone that if they hear of or know a Jewish police officer, fire fighter, EMT, court/corrections/parole/probation officer, DA/ADAs, as well as civilians of government agencies, please tell them about National Shomrim and get their contact information. As mentioned above, we welcomed two associate members from areas where there is a small or nonexistent Jewish population. Those of us who live and work in big cities where there are enough Jewish public servants sometimes take our Shomrim chapters for granted. We know that all our associate members are the real backbone of National Shomrim, keeping us updated on their areas and always looking out for more “hidden” Jews in their departments and agencies to share their heritage and encouraging them to join National Shomrim. Some of them are trying to form Shomrim chapters in their areas. We want our great organization to grow, with either more chapters or more associate members, and we want to show our Jewish pride everywhere.
Chapter dues and Associate Member dues go to the work of the chapters and National Shomrim. A majority of chapters, including National Shomrim, are 501 (c)(3) charities, so dues go to charitable events and other important causes. Although we may not be planning large scale events anytime soon, once we get the green light to start up again, you can be sure our gatherings will be joyful and epic!
Donations in honor or in memory of our members are gratefully welcomed! We have been privileged to receive these contributions and are always proud that not only our members but outsiders support National Shomrim. If you would like to make a donation, please send it to the Treasurer and we will make sure your generosity is acknowledged.
Finally, please remember to “Like” our National Shomrim Facebook page. It is updated daily with job opportunities, news, member information, chapter events, so it’s important for all chapters and associate members to ask to join the Facebook page. Just ask to join and one of the administrators will approve you. Additionally, members sometime recommend friends and colleagues to join the National Shomrim Facebook page. Please remember that anyone who asks to join should be a member in good standing of a chapter. We recently had quite a few people ask to join the Facebook page, which is a closed group. Some of those individuals weren’t members of a chapter, nor were they Jewish. If anyone recommends that a friend join, please make sure they meet the basic requirements. Check out our website, too, www.nationalshomrim.org, for past newsletters, pictures, our Executive Board and membership information.
Don’t let your chapter membership or associate membership lapse!
All membership checks and chapter dues checks, as well as any donations, should be made out to the National Conference of Shomrim Societies and mailed to Treasurer Marty Turetzky, 1503 S. Ocean Blvd., Unit W-4, Boca Raton, FL 33432
Please likeour Facebook page, the National Conference of Shomrim Societies, as well as the Facebook pages of our chapters!
Tell your members to join our Facebook group, “National Conference of Shomrim Societies”!