On Dec. 10 the FBI’s New York Division honored a true fighter against terrorism with the presentation of the Director’s Community Leadership Award.
This special award, presented on behalf of the Director of the FBI, was created in 1990 to honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America.
Devorah Halberstam, this year’s award recipient, was recognized for her endless pursuit of justice and dedication for victim’s rights.
On March 1, 1994, Devorah’s son, Ari Halberstam, was murdered in a terrorist attack on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Following her son’s murder, Devorah committed herself to the fight against terrorism. She pounded the halls of Congress to change laws on immigration, terrorism and gun control.
Working side by side with former Governor of New York George Pataki and other officials, she was instrumental in enacting the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, the first of its kind in New York State.
Determined to close loopholes in gun control laws, Devorah pushed for legislative changes and regulation.
This led to the inception of Ari’s Law, an interstate gun trafficking law that is part of a comprehensive gun control law passed in New York State through the efforts of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and signed by Governor Pataki.
Because of this demonstrated tenacity in her fight against terrorism, Devorah was appointed by Governor Pataki to serve on the first New York State Commission on Terrorism.
One of Devorah’s proudest accomplishments was the construction of the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn honoring her son’s legacy and embodying his enthusiasm for his heritage.
This multi-media museum opened in 2004 and is dedicated to teaching tolerance to all children so that we may all grow to live in a peaceful society.
On the outside of the museum is an inscription, which, translated into English reads, “Inside the museum one will find a living tree. This tree is a symbol, reminding us all that if nurtured, we will all bear great fruit.”
Devorah is recognized throughout the law enforcement community, and especially within the FBI, as a vital asset in our fight against terrorism. She conducts training sessions throughout the country at colleges and universities and within the law enforcement community.
Accepting no compensation, Devorah teaches how to see through a victim’s perspective, instructing on extremism and how to look for subtle clues to connect the dots in preventing future incidents of terror.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) Joseph Demarest, in presenting this evening’s award, said, “We are honored to recognize a true fighter against terrorism. A woman who has demonstrated an endless pursuit of justice, everlasting love for her family, dedication for victim’s rights and patriotism for her country. It is with heartfelt gratitude on behalf of everyone at the FBI that we present to you the Director’s Community Leadership Award.”
The Honorable Michael Mukasey added, “It is an honor to be here tonight to recognize someone who has dedicated her life to a cause as great as this. In today’s complex world, the war against terrorism must be confronted not only abroad, but within our borders as well. Education, acceptance, and determination are our greatest assets as we more forward. Devorah Halberstam is a true example of the strength of our nation.”
The Honorable Rudolph Giuliani stated, “Having known Devorah for many years, her dedication to protect our citizens and most importantly our children is admirable. She is a beacon to the community and has taught us all about the horrible affects of terrorism on our country.”
In accepting her award, Halberstam made the following remarks, “I am humbled to be receiving the Director’s Community Leadership Award. It demonstrates the unique partnership that has developed over the last decade between myself, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Justice Department in the ongoing battle against international terrorism.”