The New York Division has selected Devorah Halberstam to receive the Director's Community Leadership Award.
On March 1, 1994, Devorah Halberstam's 16-year-old son, Ari Halberstam, was murdered by Rashid Baz on the Brooklyn Bridge. Grief and fury over her beloved elder son's murder transformed Ms. Halberstam into an activist against terrorism.
One of her first crusades, which took over six years to complete, was to have the investigation of her son's murder classified as a terrorist incident by the Department of Justice and FBI.
Ms. Halberstam brought the first lawsuit in the history of American jurisprudence against the manufacturer of machine guns sold in gun kits. She advocated in New York state for the passing of Ari's Law as part of a comprehensive gun-control bill, which prohibits interstate gun trafficking. Ari's Law is pending in Congress, and wouldban the sale of gun kits.
With Governor George E. Pataki, Ms. Halberstam authored the first New York state laws to counter terrorism, which included the death penalty for the crimes of a terrorist. These were signed into law by Governor Pataki in 2001. She was appointed by the governor to serve on the first New York State Commission on Terrorism. Through Ms. Halberstam's efforts, the New York City Council and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani passed a law renaming the ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp.
Devorah Halberstam is a frequent speaker who has traveled across the country and around the world talking to the civic community and college students about her son's murder. Her talks educate the public about the threat of terrorism in New York, the United States, and around the globe. She currently instructs local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies around the country, including the FBI, New York City Police Department, state troopers, the military, and district attorneys on the threat of terrorism. She has also served on panel discussions alongside law enforcement as a victim of terrorism.
In Brooklyn, New York, where she lives, Ms. Halberstam uses her talents to promote intergroup relations. She is a board member of Project C.A.R.E., an organization run by African-American, West Indian, and Jewish leaders that is designed to address issues of mutual concern. Independently of Project C.A.R.E., she participated in a panel of interracial collaborators in Crown Heights, discussing her role as an activist promoting peace and tolerance as an Orthodox Jew and as a crime victim as part of the "We Are All Brooklyn" Leadership Training Program.
Presently, Ms. Halberstam is the director of foundation and government services for the Jewish Children's Museum, which is dedicated to Ari's memory. The museum is an interactive 50,000 square-foot facility which focuses on the history and culture of the Jewish people. The mission of the museum is to promote tolerance and understanding through education and culture.