Tag Archives: Jeffrey Schiff

Rockwood Park Jewish Center hosts Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Rockwood Park Jewish Center


Stories were shared and prayers were offered to the victims of the Holocaust during a special service last week at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center in Howard Beach.

Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, honors both the more than 6 million people who died at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War II and those who survived the atrocity. The event, which was hosted at the synagogue on Thursday, April 16, honored four Holocaust survivors: Nathan Berkowitz, Martin Braun, Jack Gruer and Judy Berkowitz.

After a candle lighting service, the audience sang “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz welcomed the crowd along with Bernard Fisch, president of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center.

Public officials including Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, Community Board 10 Chair Betty Braton, Fr. Francis Colamaria of St. Helen’s Church, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, made opening remarks.

Helen Greenblat, Rabbi Berkowitz’s cousin, told the story of her mother and father, who were both held in concentration camps to put a face to the numbers we so often hear.

“It’s something we can’t comprehend, but we can tell the stories and they can come to life and pay tribute by telling the stories,” Greenblat said.

Greenblat spoke about her parents before the war to emphasize that they lived a “normal” life, as well as the challenges they faced when starting over.

“They were absolutely heroic for starting all over again and continuing after what [they’d] been through, the losses they suffered, the misery they endured,” Greenblat said.

Her parents were both in their mid-teens when the war started and both lost family members as a result.

Greenblat’s father, Max Traeger, lived in Warsaw, Poland, and worked in his father’s shoe factory after dropping out of school in the fifth grade. According to Greenblat, the extreme anti-Semitism he faced in school caused him to leave.

Traeger and his family were forced into labor camps after Germany invaded Poland. Traeger, the lone survivor, lived in the camps for five years.

Ilona Lax, Greenblat’s mother, was forced out of her house in Czechoslovakia to a nearby ghetto along with her sister, two brothers and father. Soon after, they were put on cattle cars to be escorted to Auschwitz.  Upon arrival at the death camp, Lax’s father and brother were both killed.

Lax and her sister, Lily, were liberated from Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany, by British soldiers. To start a new life, they created a kosher kitchen and a synagogue. When Lax’s sister got engaged, she requested that her fiancé get her a white wedding gown.

“I couldn’t believe when I heard the story. They went through hell, they lost so many of their family members and she’s telling him she wants a white wedding gown,” Greenblat said.

Rations were implemented and instead of coffee and cigarettes, Lily Lax’s fiancé requested a white German parachute. The makeshift gown has been used by 17 brides, including Greenblat’s mother.

“That to me is a symbol of renewed life,” said Greenblat.


106th Precinct has major crime drop this month

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The 106th Precinct had the largest crime drop of any precinct in the city during the last four-week period, the precinct commander told The Courier.

Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff said the 106th Precinct had a 32.3 percent drop in serious crime from Sept. 29 to Oct. 26 compared to the same period in 2013.

Schiff said the nearly one-third decrease came about through better interaction with the community.

“By keeping the community informed, residents are in a better position to help out the police,” Schiff said. “My cops have been working hard and it shows.”

Overall, major crime fell from 164 incidents to 111 during the period and the precinct’s most persistent plague, auto theft, was nearly cut in half, from 29 car thefts in 2013 to 15 for the same period this year.

Robberies tumbled from 34 to 24, burglaries fell from 23 to 15 and felony assaults dropped from 21 to 16. The largest drop in any category was in grand larceny, from 55 to 38.

“We’ve changed up our strategies on the ways to attack these types of crimes,” Schiff said. “And it seems to be working.”


Authorities and Hamilton Beach residents use trucks to fight trucks

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Roger Gendron

Police towed three trucks and one school bus illegally parked in Hamilton Beach on Monday and Tuesday in a new effort to stop an old problem, according to authorities.

“It’s an out of the way location, a hidden spot where they think they’re safe parking overnight,” Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff of the 106th Precinct said. “It’s a quality of life issue for the locals.”

The police have also issued summonses for unregistered cars parked in the small neighborhood that is already ailed with other transportation issues like small, narrow two-way roads and potholes. Residents and police are hoping that this will be enough to put an end to a problem that has been going on for several years, according to Schiff.

While Hamilton Beach may seem like a good hiding place for truck and car owners illegally parked in the area, Schiff is paying close attention to residents’ complaints and plans on towing more trucks in the near future. But part of the problem of towing such large vehicles is that special, heavy-duty tow trucks are needed and the NYPD has a limited amount of these tow trucks.

“There are 76 commands in New York City that want the same thing done,” Schiff said. “So it’s a logistical thing. This wouldn’t be a problem if you could use regular tow trucks.”




New south Queens police initiative set to combat car break-ins

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

A new police initiative has hit the streets to combat car break-ins, and cops want residents to know if they can spot a loose item in your car, a criminal can as well.

Spot it to Secure it, a program launched last week by the 106th Precinct’s Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, targets areas in which car break-ins were heavily reported.

“It’s a crime opportunity,” said Officer Gary Maher, the program’s coordinator and crime prevention officer. “It’s not like [thieves] went out to rob a specific car, but then they see something valuable.”

Through the initiative, if cops see loose items in parked cars, they track the vehicle’s owner and either visit the person’s home or send them a letter detailing the issue—if they can spot it, you need to secure it.

The program’s team is first combing through Ozone Park, west of 100th Street. Since starting patrols on Jan. 29, cops have discovered about 25 cars with valuables loose, according to Detective Kenny Zorn.

“It’s amazing what people leave in their cars,” Zorn said. “Open purses, credit cards, wallets, GPS, change. No matter where you live, crime is going to happen, and you need to keep your stuff secure.”

Area residents frequently come to the precinct with complaints of car break-ins; some crimes are reported and others are not. Police continue to urge drivers to report all incidents to give them an accurate depiction of where break-ins happen.

Cops additionally see the program as a way to enhance community policing.

“Unfortunately, sometimes we show up for something negative,” Zorn said. “With this we’re getting positive feedback. It’s thinking outside of the box. Simple things can go a long way.”