From the Lampert Library
Who Did It?
Did you know that we are in the midst of National Police Week? In 1962, President Kennedy declared May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Events are held in Washington, D.C. during the week of May 15.
Jewish police officers have established a society called Shomrim which advocates and supports Jewish police officers. New York City’s group was founded in 1924 and, in addition to meeting locally, participates in a national kaddish service on National Peace Officers Memorial Day and marches in the Washington Israel Day parade. There are Shomrim groups in at least 25 other American cities.
Jewish policemen have served New York City since 1657 when Asser Levy, one of the group of Jewish refugees from Brazil, petitioned to serve as a guard in New Amsterdam. Peter Stuyvesant, governor of the Dutch colony, at first denied Levy the right to take his place among the other community members. Levy petitioned the Dutch West India Company, which had a great number of Jewish investors, and was granted the right to be a guard and eventually granted citizenship.
The New York City Police Department’s Shomrim Society has named its annual person of the year award after Asser Levy.
Jews are frequent characters in police procedurals and detective/ mystery books. Here’s just a taste of this sub-genre, available either in the synagogue library or your local public library
- Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is speculative fiction set in Alaska which has become a pseudo Jewish state. However, this status is set to change. Policeman Meyer Landsman stars in this combination whodunit, love story, and tale of exile and redemption,
- Gur, Police detective Michael Ohayon is the creation of the Israeli author who sets each of the six books in another section of Israeli society.
- Kaminsky, Abe Lieberman (series) is a 60ish “intensely moral Jewish Chicago cop beset by family tsuris.” (New York Times) He inspired other writers including Sara Paretsky and was the recipient of many awards.
- Kellerman, Peter Decker/ Rina Lazarus series. Peter Decker is a lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department. All the books have Jewish content to some extent.
- Kemelman, Rabbi Small series. Though not a police novel, this classic group of books features the rabbi sleuth and his crime solving police chief friend in a series whose purpose was according to Kemelman “to teach and explain Judaism to Jews and Gentiles,”
- Meyers, The Dutchman series. While the main character is not Jewish, this meticulously researched series of historical mysteries features both Jewish characters and the Jewish community of New York through the centuries.
- Shepard, The Book of Aron takes place in the Warsaw Ghetto and has police of every ilk-Polish, German, Jewish and the Gestapo- hunting Aron and his cohorts who are smuggling goods into the ghetto in hopes of keeping their families alive.
- Shoham, Lineup is set in Tel Aviv where police detective Eli Nachum is involved in a twisted high profile case of mistaken identity, organized crime and an innocent man.
- Tanenbaum, Butch Karp/ Marlene Ciampi series features husband and wife lawyers who are intimately involved with the legal and law enforcement scene.
Latest posts by Aileen Grossberg (see all)
- As the Nights Grow Longer: Good Books with Cookie Chaser - Thu, Oct 22, 2020
- October Things to Do - Thu, Oct 15, 2020
- It’s Never Too Late - Thu, Oct 8, 2020