Orthodox Jewish recruit is valedictorian of New York Police Department’s training academy


(New York Jewish Week) — Samuel Winsbacher didn’t acknowledge that he was wearing a kippah under his police cap as he delivered his valedictory address Tuesday at the NYPD Academy’s graduation ceremony.

But to anyone in the know, his acknowledgments to his family offered a giveaway about his Jewish identity.

“I would like to thank my family and close friends — my father Eli, my mother Sharen; my brothers Mendel, Sholom and Levi; my sisters Merele, Chana and Esther — for always putting up with me and supporting me,” Winsbacher said. “I would not be standing here today without your continuous support.”

Winsbacher earned the speaking role at the graduation ceremony by finishing his training with the highest grade-point average of all new officers and winning two of the eight prizes handed out to new officers: the Mayor’s Award and the First Deputy Commissioner Award. He is now joining a division that patrols part of the Bronx.

Winsbacher, 25, is from Monsey, New York, the Rockland County town that is a hub of Orthodoxy in the region. His family is affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, and his father was involved in the creation of Chabad’s first website, which the movement boasts was one of the first 500 websites.

Winsbacher is part of the NYPD Shomrim Society, a membership organization of Jewish police officers formed in 1924. (It is not affiliated with the private Shomrim safety patrols organized in some Orthodox neighborhoods.) The Shomrim Society says Jewish officers serve at all levels with in the police department; one Orthodox officer who has risen to note is Richie Taylor, now the commanding officer of community affairs outreach, who began working with the Jewish emergency service Hatzalah as a teenager before entering the police academy.

The most senior Jewish officer in the city is Alvin Kass, the department’s chief chaplain, who was named one of the New York Jewish Week’s “36 to Watch” this year. The 87-year-old rabbi, who has been on the force for 57 years, delivered the spiritual blessing at the start of the graduation ceremony.