Hasidic Neighborhood Watch Comes Under Fire

It looks like putting up an eruv is the least of worries for Williamsburg’s chosidishe community. The Brooklyn neighborhood’s Latino community is deeply concerned with abuses of power by the local Shomrim (otherwise known as the Williamsburg Saftey Patrol Unit), a NYPD-sanctioned neighborhood watch composed of Hasidic volunteers, similar in organization to Hatzalah. Apparently some incidents between the Shomrim and Latino youths have bordered on explosive, inciting animosity between the groups. Such allegations come at an inopportune time, when the trial of Lemrick Nelson, Jr., who killed Yankel Rosenbaum in 1991’s racially-charged Crown Heights riots, is back in the news.

Obviously, since September 11, 2001, in the face of increased anti-Semitic violence in New York City which culminated in a Hasidic man being pushed from a subway platform towards an oncoming train, a heightened awareness and responsiveness is necessary to safeguard the Jewish community. But are the Shomrim going too far and allowing their power go to their heads?

…Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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