The Shomrim, a volunteer Jewish police force that cooperates with the police in communities around the world and recently came under fire following the horrific murder of Leiby Kletzky A”H, regained their prestige by helping prevent violence and looting in London during the past few days’ riots.
Typically, the Shomrim serve as conduit between the Haredi communities and the police and are usually the first people called when a crime occurs. The members find out what happened and the contact the police, who open an investigation. Normally, the day is quiet with perhaps 300 phone calls globally. However, since the rioting began, the phone has been ringing constantly.
The decision to go out in force to protect Jewish communities was the result of the massive riot on Saturday night that left huge sections of London in ashes and the lack of police presence anywhere in the city. According to Gary Ost, the head of the North-West London branch, the riots start when there is no police presence and the Shomrim decided to prevent the riots from starting in the Jewish community. Consequently, Shomrim members split into two 30 man teams who worked around the clock. They have already stopped one robbery in progress.
Several Jewish businesses were damaged in the rioting, as were houses. One mainstay, Glickman’s “Do It Yourself” store in Tottenham was broken into, looted and destroyed. Other businesses were set on fire in the Golders Green neighborhood with a large Jewish community.
The Haredi community has also taken action in other ways. In the wake of the fires, numerous Haredi men and women were seen handing out Challot and other food for the Sabbath as well as collecting blankets, clothing and other items for those who lost items in the fires. The wider Jewish community has been doing same as it recuperates from the events of the week.
There are other communities that as of yet are unaffected, such as Dulwich, where journalist Jo Myles lives. According to him, “The attacks have mostly been in the poor areas” and the middle class areas have largely been left alone.
The rioting has also led to a certain degree of cooperation between the Jewish and Muslim communities, who live in close proximity.