On Friday, December 16, the famed NYPD Chaplain Alvin Kass, who once used sandwiches from the Carnegie Deli to end a hostage situation, was promoted to three-star chief. This makes him the highest-ranking chaplain in the history of the department.
At a police-headquarters ceremony honoring Kass’ 50 years of service, he was granted the new designation. NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill told the 80-year-old rabbi, “Your multifaceted talents have once achieved the milestone in hostage negotiation. In a feat that has become legendary, you were able to trade two pastrami sandwiches for the man’s two guns.”
After Friday’s ceremony, Kass told reporters about how he was called to the scene of a Midtown office building in 1981, to address a suspect armed with a gun who had relayed to police that he was Jewish.
A woman was being held hostage by the suspect after she rejected him.
Kass said to reporters, “I spent the whole night trying to talk him out of what he was doing, and I totally failed.”
By the time sunrise came around, the hostage-holder was rather hungry.
The Post reports, “But when the detectives brought back two pastrami sandwiches, they weren’t kosher, so Kass couldn’t indulge — but the suspect could. After miraculously trading a sandwich for the man’s gun, cops learned the suspect had another firearm. So Kass worked his magic again.”
The rabbi explained, “He was willing to give up his other gun, I gave him the other pastrami sandwich, and that ended it.”
Regarding his promotion, the revered chaplain said he felt “overwhelmed” and “deeply moved.”
Kass’ family members were all at the event. In attendance was his wife, Miriam, along with their three grown children and three grandchildren.
Kass addressed the audience after he accepted his three-star rank, he said, “Friends, for the past 50 years, I’ve been accepting a lot of praise that doesn’t belong to me. Most of it belongs to my wife, Miriam. She has been by confidant, my partner, my coworker, she’s been my inspiration, she’s been my chaplain.”
By Hannah Hayes