These were the dumbfounded words of Mrs. S, a young mother of 2 living in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Jerusalem. Mrs. S sends her son to a cheder in Sanhedria Murchevet, and was shocked to see video footage recently released by Rabbi Yizchok Berkowitz.
The security camera footage showed multiple cases of children being abducted and assaulted in the Sanhedria area, just a block away from Mrs. S’ son’s school. The videos were not released, of course, with the intention of ‘shock value.’ They have been shown to the public to highlight a community problem, and to highlight a solution. How the rabbanim came to discover this problem and begin to solve it is fascinating:
In 2018 the neighborhood of Sanhedria was overwhelmed by Friday night robberies. And so, several individuals, including Rabbi Yizchok Berkowitz, joined together to install security cameras on the street. What they saw was something far darker than robbery: Children were being picked up by pedophiles in broad daylight.
“Perhaps Hashem had sent us the burglaries, for the sake of being able to discover. Throughout the week, all sorts of individuals from outside the neighborhood are driving in and did awful things to children,” says Rabbi Berkowitz, in a direct video address. “We had absolutely no awareness of anything like this going on.”
Perhaps more surprising than the discovery of the assaults themselves was the fact that the cameras seemed to work. Awareness of the fact that the streets were being recorded caused a massive decrease in reported incidents. Those that did occur included evidence such as license plate numbers, and have led to arrests.
Unfortunately, the cameras are expensive to maintain, and funding them has been a community effort. Some months, the cameras have remained off. Rabbi Berkowitz, Rabbi Morgenstern, and Rabbi Soloveitchik have officially named their effort ‘Jerusalem Eye,’ and are raising money to keep the cameras on, increase the surveillance to further neighborhoods, and continue to keep the children of Jerusalem safe.
Readers can join them on this important mission by donating via The Chesed Fund.