New York – Approximately 150 people gathered at FDNY headquarters in Brooklyn on Thursday to partake in a Pesach Seder and to recognize a member of New York’s Bravest for taking part in a last resort rescue effort several weeks ago.
Firefighter Andrew Scharf, a member of Ladder Company 176 in East New York, was lowered by fellow firefighters from the roof of a burning building into a third floor apartment where he was able to rescue 39 year old Brownsville resident Ubeaka McKinney as reported by The Daily News (http://nydn.us/2nLOeZY).
McKinney had managed to safely evacuate his 88 year old grandmother from the March 5th fire, but became trapped and was hanging out a window amid heavy smoke when Scharf pulled off the daring rescue.
Scharf, 29, has been with the FDNY since 2010 and has been a firefighter for the last several years.
Abraham Englard, co-president of the FDNY’s Ner Tamid Society, the Fraternal Order of Jewish New York City Firefighters, described Scharf simply as “a good guy.” Scharf was presented with a plaque in recognition of his bravery at the FDNY Pesach Seder.
“That kind of rescue does not happen often and it’s for good reason,” explained Chief of Department James Leonard. “It’s a last resort when there is no other way to save a life and he did it. In the Jewish community they say when you save one life, you save the world.”
The idea for the FDNY to host a Pesach Seder was born after the department’s first ever Chanukah menorah lighting this past December which honored three Jewish firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. The FDNY’s commissioner of diversity and inclusion, Cecelia Loving, embraced the idea with enthusiasm, according to Englard.
“The idea was overwhelming supported and we had tremendous support from within the department,” Englard told VIN News.
Englard said that the Seder, which was led by FDNY chaplain Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, included an abridged version of the Hagada, as well as matza, grape juice, a traditional meal and plenty of singing. Among those in attendance in addition to Leonard and Loving were FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, Deputy Commissioner James Turner, Ambassador Dani Dayan of the Israeli Consulate, FDNY officials and religious leaders.
“It was really a great opportunity to share the Jewish culture and nice to be able to include others and promote unity,” said Englard.
The FDNY has just a handful of Jewish firefighters and it was a first Seder for many who took part in yesterday’s event. Asked if participants had a lot of questions about the ceremonial meal Englard quipped, “at least four.”