NEW YORK (Sep. 25)
As official figures revealed today that 335 of New York City’s 1,300 Jewish policemen had been allowed time off for Rosh Hashanah observance, the week-long dispute over the Jewish policemen, directed against Police Commissioner Stephen P. Kennedy, was declared by Mayor Robert F. Wagner “a closed matter.”
Former United States Senator and ex-Governor Herbert H. Lehman issued a statement this weekend exonerating Mr. Kennedy of charges of anti-Semitism. “I have never seen any indication whatsoever,” Mr. Lehman said, that Mr. Kennedy “is anti-Semitic or a bigot of any kind.” Mr. Lehman added that, in his opinion, “the whole matter has been blown up beyond any perspective or Justification.”
The issue developed a week ago when some Jewish policemen complained that they would not be allowed time off for celebration of Rosh Hashanah, due to the “maximum security” duties imposed upon the police department by the attendance of many heads of government at the United Nations General Assembly. In a subsequent television interview, Commissioner Kennedy had allegedly questioned the religious sincerity of some Jewish policemen. Mayor Wagner told the New York Board of Rabbis he expected Mr. Kennedy to apologize within 48 hours.
This weekend, however, Mr. Wagner issued a statement, affirming his “full confidence” in Commissioner Kennedy. The Mayor said that Stanley Lowell, chairman of the city’s Commission on intergroup Relations had discussed the matter with several representatives of the Board of Rabbis. The latter, according to the Mayor, had assured Mr. Lowell that “they will accept this statement and consider the matter closed.”
Mayor Wagner noted that Mr. Kennedy “reiterated his statement that there was no intention to insult the Jewish community or any part of it, or any faith. If anyone so interpreted his remarks, it was not his intent.”
The 335 Jewish policemen excused from work on Rosh Hashanah had exchanged tours of duty with non-Jewish policemen, with the sanction of police department officials.