Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hasidic Cop Bridges Two Worlds in New York

There is an article from February 1997 entitled "Wearing a badge and a beard":
Rockland County Police Academy in New York had never seen anything like it.
"A guy walks in with a bowler hat on, a beard, a coat coming down to his knees," says Sheriff James Kralik. "He looks like something out of 'Fiddler on the Roof.' "
It was Shlomo Koenig, now Deputy Shlomo Koenig, perhaps the only Hasidic police officer in the nation.
It is an interesting article and well worth reading. But the part that I thought was even more interesting was this:

There is mistrust between police and the Hasidim.
"We've been brought up in countries where the government was not our friend, not working with the community but against it," says the American-born Mr. Koenig. "The way we sustained ourselves has been by living in our own small world."
As Sheriff Kralik puts it: "In most countries, the policemen were burning their homes. They had no reason to trust us."

I wonder to what extent the long history of Jewish persecution, especially in Europe, affects the way some groups today view the government and its laws--even now that they live not in Europe, but in the US, in a different more tolerant society.

No excuses for cutting corners or breaking laws, but I wonder to what degree it is all those centuries of distrust manifesting itself even today, as opposed to the other reasons that are given.

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