Members of the Jewish community, law enforcement, and local officials gathered to present $47,000 to the family of Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals who lost his life in the line of duty on Dec. 10.
“When we in the broader Jewish community heard of his heroism, we felt simply expressing our sorrow and outrage wasn’t enough,” said Chaskel Bennett, a Jewish community activist who helped organize the fundraising for the family along with Leon Goldenberg and Moshe Wulliger. “After all, by all accounts, the detective likely saved Jersey City — and the Jewish community — from an even larger catastrophe.”
The sacrifice of Detective Seals
On Dec. 10 David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, perpetrated what officials have called an act of domestic terrorism when they attacked the JC Kosher Supermarket in the city’s Greenville neighborhood, killing Mindy Ferencz, 32; Douglas Rodriguez, 49; and Moshe Deutsch, 24 in a mass shooting.
Before the attack on the market, Anderson and Graham killed Detective Joseph Seals at Bay View Cemetery. They then drove a white U-Haul van outfitted with ballistic panels to the kosher store.
Seals was at the cemetery when he saw the stolen U-Haul van parked in a spot that made him suspicious. When the detective investigated, Graham and Anderson, who had been living in the van, opened fire and killed him, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Officials believe this intervention by Seals, a 15-year veteran with the department and father of five, may have prevented the deaths of many more. In the weeks following his death, many have emphasized the tragedy could have been much worse.
Last month, federal investigators said the shooters may have also targeted the Jewish Community Center in Bayonne, noting that the U-Haul van the pair drove was outfitted with an explosive which could have injured people up to five-football-field lengths away.
“As best we can speculate, the reason that bomb was not used, and there was not an attack on a broader audience, is because they were thrown into action with the murder of Detective Seals,” Carpenito said at the time.
Unity in community
The Chevra Kaddisha of Flatbush started the fundraising campaign for the Seals family to show its appreciation for law enforcement and to honor Seals.
“We felt like we needed to transform that anger, that dismay, that sadness, into tangible action,” Bennett said.
Nearly $50,000, was collected from more than 14,000 donors from around the world in less than 36 hours.
“This is a small but heartfelt gesture to express our communities’ deep and unending appreciation for those in law enforcement who put it on the line everyday for us,” Bennett said.
They presented the $47,000 check to the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association President Carmine Disbrow, who accepted it on behalf of the family.
“On behalf of the entire Seals family and the Jersey City police department, we thank our friends in the Jewish community,” Disbrow said.
“The Jewish community from day one … has been in constant in contact with us, asking us what we need, what the department needs, and what the family needs, so I just want to express my gratitude.”
The group also presented a plaque to express its appreciation for law enforcement which was accepted by Special Agent In Charge Gregory Ehrie of the FBI.