Rabbi attacked for second time in four years

NYPD chief chaplain mugged on early morning walk in Upper West Side

Police say suspect accosted Rabbi Alvin Kass and demanded money for food as he rifled through 84-year-old’s pockets

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Rabbi Alvin Kass addressing members of the press. (Courtesy Lt. Steven A. Jerome)
Rabbi Alvin Kass addressing members of the press. (Courtesy Lt. Steven A. Jerome)

NEW YORK — The chief chaplain of the New York Police Department, 84-year-old Rabbi Alvin Kass, was mugged Tuesday during an early morning walk in the Upper West Side.

Kass was walking on West 108th Street and Riverside Drive when a suspect accosted him, saying he was hungry and needed money for food, Mark Sammon from the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information told The Times of Israel.

The suspect then rummaged through Kass’s pockets, causing the chaplain’s wallet to fall to the floor. At that point though, the suspect fled the scene without taking anything, Sammon said.

The officer was unable to confirm the New York Post’s report that Kass fell and injured his shoulder in the attack, and said the police report only mentioned that the rabbi refused medical attention.

Pictured, from left: Deputy Commissioner Cathleen Perez, Police Commissioner James O’Neill, Rabbi Alvin Kass, Chief Diana Pizzuti, First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker. (Courtesy Lt. Steven A. Jerome)

An investigation has been opened into the incident, and the suspect was still at large as of late Tuesday morning.

It was the second time Kass has been mugged on his early morning Upper West Side walk in recent years. In 2016, he was power walking on Riverside Drive when someone came from behind and shoved him to the ground.

He was lightly injured and treated at a nearby hospital for a cut on the side of his head.

Kass has served as the NYPD’s chief chaplain since 2002 and its Jewish chaplain since 1966.

Kass is the longest-serving chaplain in the department’s history and the first to achieve the rank of assistant chief. He played a prominent role ministering to police and rescue workers at Ground Zero in the days after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

In 2016, the NYPD honored Kass for 50 years of service and promoted him to three-star chaplain, a first for the police force.

In addition to his role in the NYPD, Kass is rabbi emeritus of the East Midwood Jewish Center, a Conservative congregation in Brooklyn.

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