Rabbi Alvin Kass, NYPD Chief Chaplain, Mugged on Riverside Drive By Man Seeking Money for Food

Rabbi Alvin Kass.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The chief chaplain and longest-serving member of the New York Police Department (NYPD) was mugged early Tuesday morning.

Rabbi Alvin Kass, 84, “was walking on Riverside Drive when he was approached by a male at West 107th Street,” Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, commander of the 24th Precinct notified WSR. “The man went through his pockets but fled without any property,” Yaguchi said. The suspect is still at large. A spokesman for the NYPD added that the suspect had told the Rabbi “he was hungry and needed money for food.” DI Yaguchi said the rabbi was not injured.

With 54 years on the force, “Kass is the longest-serving chaplain in the department’s history,” the Times of Israel reported. “He played a prominent role ministering to police and rescue workers at Ground Zero in the days after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. In 2016, the NYPD honored Kass for 50 years of service and promoted him to three-star chaplain, a first for the police force.”

This is the second time Rabbi Kass was mugged in recent years. He was attacked from behind, also on Riverside Drive, in 2016.

NEWS | 31 comments | permalink
    1. Robin Rice says:

      Such a shame! I would like to know what time of day this happened. My husband and I walk on Riverside Drive almost daily.

      • Nelson says:

        WABC reported the incident took place at 5:45am. Sadly, it is not safe to be out there before the sunrise.

    2. Joey says:

      What a shame Rabbi Kass, a learned and devout man has dedicated his life to his congregation, his city and his beloved NYPD. He deserves much better than this. God bless you Rabbi Kass.

    3. Juan says:

      There is a special place in hell for anyone who robs an elderly person. So sad.

    4. J. L. Rivers says:

      I was walking on Broadway near W64th street the other night when a man approached me asking me for money. When I politely refused he became belligerent and started insulting me for half a block.
      I ignored him of course and felt compassion for his situation but I’ve seen more of this behavior than ever before throughout the city.

      • Somewhat Torn says:

        Even while feeling compassion for the man asking for money, J.L. Rivers ignored him. Maybe that was the thing to do. What bothers me about the comment is the “of course,” with its implication that the choice not to help was cut and dried.

        • Bob says:

          If someone approaches you on the street and demands money, you can definitely ignore them–or, if you feel like it, say “sorry, can’t help.” I support giving to the homeless, but I don’t support responding positively to aggressive panhandling. And the problem is that many of us have learned that even a word in response encourages someone to see you as a potential mark for further aggressiveness. Stinks, but that’s how the world is.

        • Buddy Revell says:

          The off course was ignoring him after being insulted. Quit looking for ways to be offended. Jeez…..

        • Emma says:

          I read it more as preempting people saying things like “what’s the big deal, you could just ignore him, this isn’t the same as getting mugged.”

        • dh says:

          To Somewhat Torn–What J.L. Rivers meant by “of course” is that she of course ignored the verbal assault and bullying–the only sensible reaction to such a thing.

    5. Scott says:

      He was mugged. It doesn’t matter what the criminal intended to use the money for. That does not justify what is a criminal act!

      WSR, your progressive bias is really seeping into your headlines.

    6. maxwell says:

      Oh im so sorry..
      ADVICE..Always keep some change in your pocket..ready for the hungry, homeless and the deranged..

      NYC and UWS are like the old days in 1972…

      • Lady Di says:

        i do exactly that – always have; a dollar bill and some quarters; so far – knock wood – this has always served me well (at least for more 50 years!). As my mom often told me, “it won’t be the difference between me and poverty”.

      • lynn says:

        I’d forgotten about this until now, but there was (presumably) a homeless man who appeared to be in his mid 50’s, clean shaven, short brown/gray hair, always wearing suit, who was regularly asking for money on B’way on the blocks between Zabars and Citarella. He was never aggressive and he’d approach people quietly like he was asking for directions. He’d start off with a story about how he lost his job but he was out there for at least 5 years, and always had the same story. The last time I saw him was pre-Covid and he was standing on the corner ranting about the state of the world to anyone who would listen. Is anyone here familiar with him?

      • daniel malisky says:

        WSR….your a good paper …I read you since I have left NY with my kids….your head line with the Rabbi was misleading…report…don’t decide for people or you will loose your readership…the mugger said he wanted money for food and was caught buying drugs….

    7. Laurie Schertz says:

      Glad you are ok.46 years ago you were rRabbi who married us at Whitestone Hebrew Centre.always remember you saying marriage is not 50-50 but 60-40 or even 20-80.you were right,We are still together thanks to your advice,Fondly From Laurie and David Schertz

    8. Eric Curtis says:

      New York City is a war zone … can’t go out too early and you must be home at sundown or risk becoming a victim of the thousands of homeless drug addicts roaming the streets without police supervision

      • Realist says:

        Dear Chicken Little:
        Sorreee, but the sky is NOT falling…the UWS, nor any other part of NYC, is NOT doomed! Unless, of course, people begin to believe your base-less claims and act accordingly, leaving the streets empty so the “wolves” may prey.

      • WestSideReader says:

        Ok, let’s ease off the gas a little bit there chief. The post below this one is about having a gourmet dog picnic in central park and the one above is about the reopening of a high-end bakery and a restaurant with $50 red snapper. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE SEND U.N. PEACEKEEPERS!!!!

    9. Iris says:

      I’m glad the Rabbi is not hurt, but the bigger picture is the sadness and travesty of someone who was in need of food.

      • LK says:

        Iris, it’s nice to have compassionate neighbors (honestly), but you have to see through this. Person either needed drugs, was on drugs, or both.

    10. Rachel says:

      What’s missing in this exchange is 1) we should feel safe in our neighborhoods and a walk in Riverside Drive “before sunrise” should not be a problem—we’re not talking about 2 am! 2) that far too often, particularly when it comes to aggressive demands for money, the money given to the homeless person is used for drugs. When someone says they’re hungry or holds up a sign to that effect, I give or buy them a food item. There is NO excuse for aggressively approaching someone EVER. I’m sick of the so-called “progressives” making excuses for every assault against hard working, law abiding citizens!

    11. Anna-ineZ says:

      I feel so badly for the Rabbi. I always try to carry a bit of cash in my pocket, because especially now there are so many who are truly hungry and homeless. I feel so blessed to have enough food and shelter, so I try to pass on my blessings to those who are less fortunate. The park seems to be full of homeless people sleeping on benches these days, even in our neighborhood. When I leave to go out, I try to remember to put a few dollar or some change s in my pocket, as it can make a big difference to a lost, hungry, and homeless a child of God. Perhaps, the Rabbi would not have been mugged if he just offered the man something for food. We are living in difficult times. I wish him and all of our neighbors to be safe and well. Many of us like to walk early in the morning so we must be mindful. It is sad to see this happening in my lovely neighborhood.

      • Ye Olde Englifhe Teachere says:

        Re: “I feel so badly for the Rabbi.
        BADLY is an adverb…adverbs modify verbs…thus “feel so badly” implies that your fingers have lost their sense of touch;
        BAD is an adjective…adjectives modify nouns…thus “feel” in this case = emotion…so “I feel bad” means “I have a sad feeling about (something).
        And, yes, this will be on tomorrow’s test.
        Class dismissed.

    12. MAD says:

      It doesn’t matter why he was mugged. He was mugged — an elderly man! There are plenty of ways people can get food at various church food banks and other programs. This was a crime. As my grandfather used to say, if a guy wants a sandwich, I’ll give him a sandwich. But when I give him a sandwich and he throws it on the ground, he just wants money for booze (and I would add, drugs). This is akin to throwing food on the ground.

      • Jay Soto says:

        Victem was. Elderly. But we dont know if mugging took plce.he was asking money for food only..

    13. Melba says:

      One reason why I try to avoid people entirely if I walk on the UWS before sunrise or just around sunrise, especially if they seem like vagrants. There needs to be a ban on any solicitation between sunset and sunrise. The city can’t constitutionally ban all panhandling, but a valid public safety reason would pass constitutional muster for banning all panhandling between sunset and sunrise.

      • EricaC says:

        It seems unlikely that a ban on solicitation would stop someone from begging for money for illegal drugs.