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Rabbi Alvin Kass of the NYPD: More Jews should become cops

The 88-year-old chief chaplain is the oldest member of the force.

Rabbi Alvin Kass. Source: YouTube Screenshot.
Rabbi Alvin Kass. Source: YouTube Screenshot.

“I took the job, and I fell in love with it,” Chief Chaplain Rabbi Alvin Kass of the New York City Police Department tells the Jewish Chronicle in an extended interview about his career in law enforcement, which began back in 1966.

Kass, 88, holds the distinction of being both the oldest member of the force and the longest-serving. He cites Deuteronomy 17 as a biblical mandate for his profession. It says: “Judges and police officers, you shall appoint in your gates already. Our ancestors thousands of years ago appreciated that human nature is such that civilization can survive only if you’ve got police officers and judges who resolve disputes between people.” 

Kass turned down a scholarship to attend Harvard Law School and instead chose to become a rabbi. He says he thought he would “find a more satisfying career where I felt I was helping people,” according to the Chronicle.

He has called for more Jews to enter law enforcement and fondly recalls his bond with the officers he supported, saying, “I became the rabbi to these cops, and I fell in love with them.”

Still, he adds, “I love cops, but I know one thing; cops deal with life, and life out on the street is raw.”

Describing the police perspective, Kass says, “You see the worst of people, sometimes you see the best of people, but a lot of situations in life can make you cynical. And I think that religious faith helps to protect them against a destructive cynicism.”

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