Spotlight: Shomrim UK

I have all the respect in the world for Shomrim, Jewish civilian patrol groups (or neighborhood watches) that do everything from stopping vandals to helping victims of violent crimes and searching for missing persons. Though they do not have the authority to make arrests, they are known to be effective in tracking and detaining suspects until police arrive. Shomrim UK (North London) hands over, on average, three to five suspects per week to the police.

Shomrim UK also tackle anti-Semitic crime, and are often called before police, due to their quick response time- about 40 seconds!, Though formed to patrol Jewish religious neighborhoods, around 70% of the people they help are not Jewish.

Reporter Tammy Kinder described her experience on patrol with Shomrim in North London: “At around 10PM a Shomrim patrolman spots a woman lying in the middle of busy traffic on Stamford Hill Broadway. Shulem (the driver) gets us there in less than a minute. When we arrive, two Shomrim members are giving first aid to the woman in the street – a (non-Jewish) pedestrian knocked down by a hit and run driver – while another tapes off the area. Two more Shomrim members are taking contact details of witnesses to pass on to police. Three minutes later, a Hatzola ambulance arrives and prepares to take the woman to hospital. Three minutes after that, the police arrive.”

That response is known to be the group’s norm.

shomrim

(photo via thejc)

What I find truly remarkable about the group is their inter-faith cooperation that brings about heightened community trust. Shomrim UK have an agreement with the Muslim community to protect their mosque and community center. These types of initiatives are the building blocks for safe communities and diminishing hate crimes.

This is a grassroots group that is making a difference, and serves as inspiration for future grassroots movements seeking to tackle anti-Semitism. They take active and effective steps to fight anti-Semitism (and crime!) without waiting for the initiative of major Jewish organizations. They are on excellent terms with local police forces and citizens. Now that’s the kind of resourceful action our communities can count on!

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