The first Shomrim Society was established in the New York City Police Department in 1924. Capt. Jacob Kaminsky was the first president. It is rumored that a comment made to a young Jewish officer going on patrol was the spark that started this fraternal and charitable organization. It was suggested that he might feel more at home with a salami, rather than a nightstick, under his arm. Well ,he kept his salami, his heritage and his police status. At that time only 1% of the department was Jewish.

                  Shomrim really blossomed in New York during the depression years. Civil service jobs provided the only secure means of making a living in those days. The civil service lists of 1935-37 added 400 new Shomrim members.

                  In 1939 33,000 people took the test. Of that only 1440 passed and one third of them were Jews. Most of them were college graduates out of work teachers, lawyers, accountants and even two doctors. By the mid 1960s this "class of 1940" had filled such positions as Chief Inspector (the highest uniformed rank), a female Deputy Chief Inspector, the Chief of Detectives, Chief of the Organized Crime Bureau and Chief of the Narcotics Division; in effect, it was the class "the stars" fell on.

                  Today, Jewish Police Officers hold many different positions, and almost every rank in the NYC Police Department. The highest ranking uniformed female police officer is a three star chief and she is also the current highest ranking member of the Shomrim Society.

                  The goal of the society appears atop its stationary "so that Law Enforcement Officers of the Jewish faith may join together for the Welfare of all"


Rabbi's Message, Rabbi Alvin Kass, January 2013


Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD

Prescription for Happiness

                  The desire for pleasure is one of the most powerful impulses of human nature. Since people are creatures of God, the desire comes to us from a sacred source. In a real sense, therefore, the enjoyment of life is divinely sanctioned and the fulfillment of God's will. To be sure, all too often the pursuit of pleasure becomes excessive and causes terrible problems. Unfortunately, a large number of people don't know when to stop. As a result, the social drinker turns into an alcoholic, and the gourmet into a glutton. If we could define the proper limits of our behavior, our lives would achieve a much higher degree of fulfillment and inner contentment. Most of life's pleasures are legitimate and healthy provided we partake of them in moderate doses.

                  Take for example, the quite normal aspiration for popularity which characterizes many people. One of the reasons we like to be in the presence of celebrities is that they embody the popularity that we wish were ours. Now there is nothing wrong with the desire to be popular provided it doesn't become a monomania. Sensible people realize that not everyone will like them, and they are able to live with that fact. They are also aware that fame is fleeting, inconstant and evanescent. It should be sufficient satisfaction that one is able to retain the affection of his family and friends.

                  Another well-nigh universal desire is for material success. Here again, there is nothing wrong provided one is able to impose sensible limitations on this understandable wish. Money is important and essential in order to take care of one's family and loved ones in a proper and dignified way. Some individuals, however, are so consumed by the desire for monetary abundance that they spend their lives in a mad ceaseless pursuit which gives them no rest. They forget that knowing how to make money is not the same as knowing how to live. They are unaware that while a man may make money, money cannot make a man. The true value of a human being is what he would be worth to others if he didn't have a dime. It ought to be enough for a man if he can offer a measure of security to his family, partake himself of some reasonable comforts, and extend help to human beings in need. A man who can enjoy such limited pleasures has the capacity to live a creative and contented life.

                  Perhaps the most widespread human drive is for happiness. The quest too is legitimate if we have the good sense to recognize that happiness can come to a man only in limited quantities. Sorrow and sickness are real parts of the world, and every man must learn to endure his share of them. No one has the right to expect immunity from the built-in limitations of life. When we understand this, we are on the road to being able to enjoy the limited episodes of happiness which surely will come our way.

                  Each one of us has his limitations, and can expect to receive only a limited amount of what the world has to offer. Take the pleasures of the world in moderate doses, and you'll be all right.



                  He who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – may He bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Force, who stand guard over our land and the holy cities that are Yours from the border of Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea to the approach of the Arovah, on the land, in the air and on the sea. May He bless and protect the soldiers of the United States of America and our Allies, who risk their lives to protect and defend not only our borders but our right to Freedom and Democracy, here on our land and wherever we are threatened.

                  May He bless and protect the Police Officers of New York City and all Law Enforcement Officers and Agents of this great Nation, who at the risk of their own lives protect the citizens of our city and this country from those who wish us harm. May He preserve and rescue all these courageous ‘Shomrim’ from every trouble, distress, plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor. May He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse:

"For it is Hashem, your God, who goes with you to battle your enemies for you, to save you".

Now let us respond: Amen




Copyright: Committee Of Police Societies,  Police Department City of New York
Eugene Canapi, President

One Police Plaza, Room 206, New York, New York, 10038