By Eddie Samuels
Congregation Beth Jacob led dozens of Toco Hills residents to the DeKalb County police headquarters in Tucker on Wednesday, July 20, not to protest, but to show support for officers about to go on patrol.
The Jewish visit, a response to recent attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, took place in the meeting room where officers go through their daily roll call.
After the announcements, Rabbi Ilan Feldman briefly spoke to the officers. “We know every minute we’re keeping you here is a minute you’re not out there keeping us safe,” he said. “We deeply appreciate what you do for us day in and day out; we know that you put yourselves in the line of fire and at risk to keep us safe. We respect and honor everything that you stand for.”
Rabbi Feldman brought cards made by Beth Jacob preschoolers to express their gratitude, as well as lunch.
“It’s kosher pizza. We don’t know if it tastes better or worse because most of us have never had the other stuff,” Rabbi Feldman joked.
The officers took questions from the visitors, and at the request of AJT columnist Chana Shapiro, newly promoted Sgt. T. Sharpe demonstrated the tools officers carry on duty.
“This event means a lot,” said the precinct commander, Maj. T.S. Voss. “We’ve always worked well with the Jewish community. A lot of times we get special requests around Jewish holidays for extra patrol, which we try our best to honor. We’ve been to a number of community events with the local Jewish community, and they have always supported us.”
The roll-call meetings always end with a prayer, and Rabbi Elimelech Gottlieb, the acting head of school at Torah Day School of Atlanta, offered the following prayer from King David: “I will lift up my eyes to the heavens. From where does my salvation come? My salvation comes from the Lord, the Creator of the heaven and the earth. The Lord will stand by your right hand, the Lord will protect you from the dangers of the day and the night, and the Lord will protect your coming and your going, for now and forever.”
“Our goal was just to express appreciation and respect,” Rabbi Feldman said. “We wanted to convey that message to our young people as well. It was surprisingly relaxed and very comfortable. The officers were clearly extremely pleased and made us feel very comfortable in their professional home.
“It felt good to do something positive in a time when there is so little love expressed in public and we need to express love and appreciation for all who serve the community.”