NYPD range disrupts City Island Yom Kippur services

Members of the congregation at Temple Beth El on City Island Avenue are calling on the police department to not detonate explosives at their Rodman’s Neck facility on high holy days if possible.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

Members of a City Island congregation were disturbed by detonations from the NYPD facility at Rodman’s Neck while praying during the High Holy Days.

Temple Beth El had their Yom Kippur services disrupted by at least two planned detonations of bombs, known as ‘controlled demolitions, from the nearby NYPD pistol training range and facility, according to sources.

The synagogue’s president Paul Klein received a notification via Notify NYC at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 12 that detonations should be expected at Rodman’s Neck throughout the day.

According to temple rabbi David Evan Markus and Klein, the temple president made an effort to call police officials in advance of Yom Kippur and shortly after learning that detonations were planned on October 12.

Klein requested that the detonations not coincide with services. Those efforts proved to be fruitless

“During Yom Kippur our congregants were startled during what should have been the holiest time of the year; praying for peace and for forgiveness, they were rocked by repeated explosions at Rodman’s Neck,” said Markus. “They happened to coincide with the height of the services, including times when our congregants were outside in our garden in personal prayer.”

Temple Beth El wrote to the mayor’s office and Councilman James Vacca on Thursday, October 20 and requested that the NYPD facility at Rodman’s Neck suspend “shooting and explosions during the few pivotal hours of the Jewish High Holy Days so that our synagogue is not rocked with the sound of gunfire and the reverberation of explosions during the holiest time of the year.”

Some temple congregants are used to hearing gunfire from the range when attending Friday night services, said the rabbi, adding that the detonations on Yom Kippur came during a part of the service where the congregants ‘rehearse’ their own deaths.

“For us to be in the line of fire on Yom Kippur was not exactly what I would have hoped for as a spiritual leader,” said Markus.

The congregation is not seeking to comment on the overall question of what should be done in terms of the Rodman’s Neck facility’s future, he said, but rather is looking for consideration on a religious issue.

“If the city can suspend meter regulations and alternate side of the street parking for major holidays, then certainly they can suspend shooting and bomb detonations on the holiest day of the Jewish year,” said Markus.

Vacca said that he had spoken and met with Klein on City Island and said regarding the range that he agreed that there should be consideration of religious holidays.

“I don’t want this to happen again,” said Vacca, adding that he does not see any reason why accommodations cannot be made.

City Island Civic Association board member John Doyle said that if explosive detonations are scheduled, more cultural consideration should be given.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

More from Around NYC