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Friday, December 26, 2008

From the Archives: NYPD CHOSEN GUNS

Didja hear the one about the cop who walked into a doughnut shop and asked for a bagel and a shmear?

You will soon. The NYPD is adding 10 Orthodox Jews, including one woman, to their ranks. That's the largest Orthodox contingent ever in the department's latest cadet class.

When Ari Husarsky told his parents he wanted to be a cop, they were all verklempt.

"My mom flipped," the 24-year-old recalled as he stood outside the Police Academy on East 20th Street near Gramercy Park.

When the shock wore off and he had promised he would still keep kosher on meal breaks and, yes, in doughnut shops, his parents gave him their blessing.

"My mother was also against it for the obvious reasons," added Brighton Beach resident Max Silva, 28, a former caterer at Meisner's in Brooklyn. He said they thought it was just too dangerous.

"It was just one of those childhood dreams I never grew out of. Everybody was against it because nobody thinks of Jewish people as police officers," he said.

"I always wanted to be a cop, but my wife, Sharona, was against it," Silva added. "But I convinced her. It took her two years. She thinks it's a dangerous job. I was sick of my other job because there was no room to grow. I wanted a future."

The Police Department has welcomed the new recruits, who are excused from working after dusk on Fridays and on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

"This class is going to be the ice breaker," cadet Shmuel Tenenbaum said proudly. "The next class is going to have 30 or 40."

He said he'd prefer not to work in an Orthodox area, especially his own Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, where his dad owns a matzo factory.

"If you give a Jewish guy a ticket, it's very hard," he said, noting that he might be pressured to give preferential treatment. "And then people talk. They could make your life miserable."

Tenenbaum is fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming one of New York's Finest. He finally took the plunge after serving as an auxiliary cop for the Highway 2 unit.

And he doesn't think that wearing a yarmulke under his police cap will mean he's different from the others. "I just feel like a regular person. I don't stop and think my yarmulke is on."

Luckily, he's now got plenty of support from the Jewish community, especially his rabbi.

Single and 25, David Attali is hoping that being a cop will make him a babe magnet, or at least help him find a wife. "I think girls actually like it. Because how many Jewish cops are there?" he said.

But he worries that the low starting salary will make it tough keeping kosher.

"A burger at McDonald's costs two or three bucks, but at a kosher place it's $8," he lamented.

The Orthodox recruits graduate from the Police Academy in December along with 1,218 classmates.

Police recruit Jesse Cohen, 34, said his parents were convinced he was meshugana, but eventually they relented. "It's what's in your heart," he said.

Born in Uzbekistan, Amnum Pirov, 32, was a barber in Queens. He believes he's the first Bukharian Jewish officer. He's married, has three kids, attends yeshiva, and despite the dangers intrinsic to being a cop, wife Elana is proud of his new career.

While working as a manager at a kosher grocery store on Long Island, Chaim Goldgrab, 25, would often daydream about a new career. Since he couldn't decide whether he wanted to be a mortician or a cop, he decided to do both, and is also training as a funeral director.

His preference is saving lives rather than dealing with the dead. "I never fit the mold," he said.

Eleena Zazon, 23, who lives in suburban Monsey, is one of a handful of female Orthodox Jews on the force. She's looking forward to making her mark on the shooting range: "I've always been very adventurous and looking for excitement."

She said her friends "are a bit surprised" by her chutzpah and she's bucking strict tradition by wearing pants instead of long dresses, an Orthodox symbol of modesty. But her gear is manufactured specifically for women - so it's not in violation of Orthodox law.

The kosher cops have had to deal with a few wardrobe issues during training.

"Even today in the gym my yarmulke fell off when I was doing push-ups," said Eliezer Zinstein, 24, who signed up after working as a Talmud teacher for five years in Canarsie, Brooklyn.


The by-the-book cadet said that only once he had to seek a rabbinical resolution.

"I used to wear wool tzizit," he said, referring to the tassels worn by observant Jews at the corners of an undershirt-like garment.

His wise rabbi told him that he could wear lighter cotton during strenuous workouts. The tassels also are tucked into his pants.


Kalman Witriol, 23, was destined for the job. He's following in the footsteps of his brother, Joel Witriol, who was featured on The Post's front page in 2006 when he became the NYPD's first Hasidic cop.

"The NYPD is the most diverse city agency and the most diverse police department in America," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "It's one of our great strengths."


rblau@nypost.com

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