Rav Yitzchok Berkovits released a very direct video address this week, in response to an urgent crisis in his community:
[FULL VIDEO & HASCAMAS BELOW]
“For years, our neighborhood Sanhedria Murchevet was plagued with burglaries. Friday nights if someone was out you could be sure someone would break in to the apartment. Just a lot of loss of property, belongings. Aside from the financial loss, personal items that mean a lot to people. So we got together and set up a system of cameras, security cameras.
But in the process, we realized that there was something else going on. Perhaps Hashem had sent us the burglaries, for the sake of being able to discover. Throughout the week, all sorts of individuals from outside the neighborhood are driving in and did awful things to children. We had absolutely no awareness of anything like this going on.
Catching this on camera of course, meant that these people could be identified. People are in prison. The police appreciated it. But this is going on, on a constant basis.
The cameras, maintaining them, is quite expensive. Beyond anything we are able to afford. We are not a neighborhood for people that are really of means. At a certain point, the cameras were actually turned off because we just couldn’t afford to pay. Money was borrowed, and we’re trying to get the inhabitants to pay whatever they can, but it’s really beyond us.
This is the safety of our children. The safety of grandchildren for so many of you out there. Or children of friends.
We really cannot handle this on our own. We need your help. I ask all those who can to please help Sanhedria Murchevet protect their children. Keep our cameras up! It will serve as a deterrent and also get rid of perpetrators once they’re identified.
Hashem should watch over all of us. Hashem should watch over you, and children and families and grandchildren. There should be no need for all of this, im yirtzeh Hashem. In the merit of you all becoming partners in keeping our neighborhood safe. Thank you so much.”
Rav Berkovits’s message is powerful and direct. He is joined by Rav Morgenstern and Rav Soloveitchik in the founding of their grassroots effort ‘Jerusalem Eye,’ aimed at keeping Jerusalem’s children safe through surveillance. At the time of Jerusalem Eye’s founding in 2018 there were between 7-5 incidents of assault per month in the neighborhoods of Sanhedria. Since they installed cameras (cost of $750,000) they have seen a reduction in about 90% of the incidents, now only about 1 every three months. This shows clearly that the installation of the cameras is effective in stopping abuse.
Various other community rabbanim lend their public support to this effort. Without financial assistance, the cameras will remain off, and many children will be at risk. The far-reaching ripple effects of abuse are well known – contributions to this very important cause are an investment not just in the safety of kids today, but in the stability of future generations. Donations are being accepted via The Chesed Fund.
Note: Please embed youtube video in article where noted, and add hascamas (attached) after article text.