The New Jersey Chaplain’s Association paid tribute to the Toms River Police Department for their exquisite sensitivity displayed at the scene of the devastating car accident that claimed the life of a local young mother, Mrs. Leah Eisdorfer, just over one month ago.
At a pre-Pesach event NJCA held for leaders in law enforcement, including sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors from around the state and elected officials on all levels of government, they presented Toms River Police Chief Mitchell Little with a plaque recognizing the professionalism and compassion responding officers displayed throughout the tragic situation, cooperating with all agencies to ensure that Kavod Hameis was upheld to the fullest extent.
The Toms River Police Department does exemplary work in remaining sensitive to every community and culture they serve. Over the years, the department maintained a working relationship with the New Jersey Chaplains Association, including training pertaining to life and death matters, with the hope that this particular training never enters the realm of reality. It was that commitment to sensitivity, training and professionalism that was on admirable display during the devastating events of March 9th.
Rabbi Schenkolewski, serving the law enforcement community for over fifty years, spoke on on behalf of NJCA, explaining how much it truly means to have a sensitive police response to a tragedy involving an Orthodox victim, with so many delicate and intricate laws applicable.
In Lakewood, he said, the necessary officials, from the local police department right up to the Sheriff’s Office, have learned what Jewish law requires in times of tragedy and work well together with the various organizations involved at the scene, in accordance with the victim’s religious beliefs – “like clockwork”.
“All of the sudden we were faced with tragedy right over the border in Toms River,” said R’ Schenkolewski. “I was nervous. They’re not familiar with our religious requirements. But when I spoke to the chaplain on site, he told me, ‘Don’t worry Rabbi; Toms River police are doing everything required, with utmost respect for our beliefs.’”
He expressed his heartfelt gratitude, on behalf of all involved, for the remarkable way the officers handled the entire tragedy, and for their sensitivity and compassion throughout.
“With all that we hear nowadays, we are grateful to know that as far as the Police Department is concerned, we have true friends in Toms River,” he concluded.
Chief Little, along with Captain Michael Brosnan and Captain Michael Belcher, accepted the award on behalf of the department and were visibly moved at the gesture. Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronodo and Ocean County Freeholders Ginny Haines and Jerry Little were proud to present the award on behalf of NJCA. In a powerful gesture, the presentation was greeted with rousing, emotional applause from attendees from the US Marshalls, NJ State Police, Howell, Brick, Jackson, Lakewood township police departments, Ocean and Monmouth County Sheriffs and Prosecutors and from all of the many dignitaries present.
“It’s our friends the chaplains who should be receiving this award,” said Chief Little in his brief remarks. “You helped us more than we helped them. We gave one call and you took the ball and ran with it, showing us what needed to be done without impeding the investigation at all. You were a tremendous help.”
“In times of tragedy, well-placed sensitivity and compassion can be a much-needed source of comfort for all those involved,” said the NJCA. “In this particular heart wrenching situation, the cooperation and the respect extended by the responding members of the Toms River Police Department proved to be a balm to an aching extended family and was noted and appreciated by the entire community.”