Devorah Halberstam: A Letter To An Amazing Woman
By: Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson
Published: March 28th, 2014 – Jewish Press
I remember when it happened. March 1, 1994. I remember the horror and sense of devastation. Jewish children targeted once again! A van filled with yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge sprayed with bullets… four were shot and one died as a result of his injuries – sixteen-year-old Ari Halberstam.
All I remember thinking is “How is his mother coping with her devastating tragedy and wondering if she had collapsed under the horrific blow, unable to face life in its aftermath, in the absence of her beloved firstborn.”
Over the years there has been no shortage of reporting about Devorah Halberstam, Ari’s mother. Even in Israel, thousands of miles from the Halberstam home, there have been frequent references in the media to Ari’s mother. Do you know why?
Because Devorah Halberstam, the beautiful young Jewish mother, did not collapse. On the contrary, she rose like a phoenix from the fire. She accurately identified the shooting as a terrorist act and criticized the authorities for treating it as an ordinary homicide. She fought – the police, the FBI and the U.S. Congress – to have Ari’s death investigated as a politically-motivated act of terrorism.
In the process she developed relationships with law enforcement officials at the highest levels. With rare insight and determination, she cut through political correctness during the pre-September-11 era, an unheard of accomplishment. Former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly credits Devorah Halberstam with being a “a major force in the political world” and having a powerful impact on the creation of anti-terrorism laws in New York State, among them “Ari’s Law,” a comprehensive New York State law controlling gun trafficking across state lines.