(December 12, 2019 / JNS) A fund set up by a group of Orthodox Jewish leaders from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y., to benefit the family of Det. Joseph Seals, who was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 10 in Jersey City, N.J., raised more than $48,000 in less than 24 hours. Originally, organizers were hoping to raise $25,000 from members of the Jewish community to show their appreciation to the officer who gave his life to save others.
Seals was killed by two attackers early on Tuesday afternoon at the Bayview Cemetery in Jersey City. The suspects, a man and a woman, then drove approximately one mile to the JC Kosher Supermarket in the city’s Greensville section, home to a significant population of religious Jews.
The two stormed the store and fired round after round of bullets as they engaged police during an hours-long standoff. When police entered the market, they discovered the bodies of Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, who owned the store with her husband, Moshe Dovid Ferencz; Moshe Deutsch, 24, of the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Miguel Douglas, 49, who worked at the store. Ferencz’s husband had left the store just moments before the attack to attend afternoon prayer services at a synagogue next door.
“There is an extremely massive outpouring of grief and outrage at the attack that occurred in Jersey City,” said Jewish community leader Chaskel Bennett, a co-founder of the civic and political group Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition (FJCC), who spearheaded the campaign with fellow Flatbush community leaders Leon Goldenberg and Moshe Wulliger. “Obviously, when an event of this magnitude happens and we see the victims that are identifiably Orthodox Jews, automatically it hits home a little bit harder.”
“Orthodox Jews care deeply about the people who stand on the front lines protecting us.”
In situations like this, continued Bennett, “we as a community need to take a moment and recognize the sacrifices that law-enforcement professionals are making all across the country to secure our shuls, our synagogues, our JCCs, our yeshivahs, our day schools. … These are human beings with families; and in this case, Detective Seals has a wife and five children.”
The response to the fundraising campaign was swift. More than 1,400 donations were raised; the campaign is now closed. Gifts ranged from just $2 to $200, with many less than $50. A number of those who contributed also left messages on the campaign web page.
“RIP, thank you for all you have done. May god bless your family and all the men in blue.”
“We can never repay you for all the lives you saved, RIP. Strength to your wife and kids and loved ones.”
Donating to the Seals family, said Bennett, shows that “Orthodox Jews care deeply about the people who stand on the front lines protecting us,” adding that this “small act” allows the “community to take our anguish and transform it into tangible action.”
The response also shows that “the anguish is real,” he added.
“The fear Jews now feel didn’t begin with this terrible incident. The anti-Semitic attacks against our community have been escalating for a while now, and we have been sounding the alarm,” explained Bennett. However, “the response by people to donate more than $48,000 in 18 hours speaks to the overwhelming desire for people to be part of something positive in the midst of such pain. From the depths of our sorrow, the very best of our people shines through.”
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