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New York, NY - Subway Rabbi A Chaplain To The Rescue

Published on: January 28, 2013 02:03 PM
By: VIN News Staff
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In the wake of epic tragedy, Rabbi Harry Berkowitz is sent to soothe shaky subway operators who witness death. 'Within 15 minutes of a traumatic event, they call me,' says the rabbi designated as a transit chaplain, who calms the mind of a worker after a troubling event. Photo Credit Jan. 27 2013, Allison Joyce, NY Daily News courtesy to VINNews.comNew York, NY - When we hear of “subway accidents”, rarely do we recognize the faceless conductors and motormen who work and deal with the daily ramifications of such gruesome acts. But there is one man who is always willing to appear on the scene and aid in the traumatic aftermath.

“Rabbi Harry Berkowitz is a special man,” says a relieved New York City transit worker.

According to the NY Daily News (http://nydn.us/Wx0hpU) for over three decades, the 65 year-old rabbi has dedicated his time and efforts through prayer, inspiration and hope. Often spending long nights into the wee hours assisting the transit police, he has seen his fair share of PTSD induced struggles.


Indeed, rabbi Berkowitz has a true calling when it comes to responding to shocked and bereaved subway operators. He works tirelessly with his group of holy clerics behind the scenes to bring a sense of calm and security to a chaotic, underground world.

As he appears alongside first responders to a “12-9”, distress code for a train hitting a person, he immediately finds a small area of peace that any transit worker can enter and find haven. Here, they are not judged. They can pray. They can speak. The Rabbi remains a silent pillar of strength. “It’s a shock,” he says gravely, “They are going about their business, into the station, and someone jumps.”

During the on-the-spot session of counseling, he offers them quiet words of support. He gives them a sense of grounding and brings them back to reality. He gives them a rare insight into their own hearts, helping them to see that carrying such an accident in a debilitating way would affect family, friends, even strangers.

These unfortunate accidents are not happenstance. They occur more often than we as private citizens would care to enumerate. But rabbi Berkowitz has a number. He estimates from his own experience around 1,600 calls have been made for his direct assistance.

“They are not alone,” he says.

There are 85 chaplains of various denominations located near every station, providing a beacon of comfort to transit workers.

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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »


 Jan 28, 2013 at 02:11 PM CSE Unit Says:

What a great man, met him on the job, and heard him speak at a few Chesed Shel Emes events.


 Jan 28, 2013 at 02:26 PM ExpatriateOwl Says:

I have had the honor and pleasure of meeting Rabbi Berkowitz; he is everything good they say about him, and more.


 Jan 28, 2013 at 03:00 PM Insider Says:

Super !!!!!!!
Rabbi Berkowitz is a true blessing !!!


 Jan 28, 2013 at 04:07 PM schmaltzy Says:

Rabbi Berkowitz about 13 years ago found my five year old daughter who went missing Chol Hamoed Pesach on Coney Island after the adult supervisor took her eyes off of her for a while. He kept her safe and returned her through the police. I am forever endebted.


 Jan 28, 2013 at 04:08 PM toolee Says:

CSE member says, Rabbi B is a great inspiration to all, may he be blessed with health & wealth & many more years of dedicated service.


 Jan 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM Shor ben Chamor Says:

Have dealt with him under trying circumstances...words can't do justice. A true tzadik. The most neutral guy. Looks all affiliation aside...Keep it up R' Tzvi.


 Jan 28, 2013 at 05:04 PM B-SImcha Says:

Rabbi Berkowitz is the real deal. Anyone who ever walked into his shul in Howard Beach and saw the Rabbi in action would agree. Truly a Tzadik.


 Jan 28, 2013 at 05:39 PM shredready Says:

nice story we need more people like him


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