At the insistence of City Councilman Doug Shields, the City Council issued a proclamation to Congregation Poale Zedeck during its Tuesday, May 24, session, affirming the swift and effective action taken by congregants April 27 after a car crashed into the front steps of their Squirrel Hill synagogue.
“With disregard for their own safety, several congregants tackled the driver, while others held the passenger at bay by putting his arms behind his back, patting him down for a weapon,” said Councilman Bruce Kraus, filling in for Shields, who was delayed at a conference in New York City.
The proclamation also addressed Shields’ mission to “take measures to make the intersection safer and protect the Poale Zedeck congregation through architectural and traffic renovations,” according to the proclamation, which Kraus read aloud, “to prevent further damage to the historically registered landmark.”
Kraus then introduced Poale Zedeck President Lenny Plotkin and congregant Al Dubinsky.
“Their concern and action in participating in public safety is appreciated by the city at large,” said Kraus.
Though Plotkin and Dubinsky were recognized by name, the congregants said that the proclamation was due to the whole congregation, as “it wasn’t just one or two people,” said Plotkin. “We love our shul. We’re willing to do whatever’s necessary so that we can function.”
Dubinsky, one of the congregants who assisted in the apprehension of the car’s driver, Adam DiSabato, and passenger Steven Bradford, seemed honored by the proclamation, but insisted, “the reaction shouldn’t be considered unusual. People should be willing to protect their property. Accidents don’t happen every day, but you’ve got to be prepared to respond properly.”
Commenting on Shields’ plan to install defensive poles along the sidewalk outside Poale Zedeck, which is located at a dangerous curve along Shady Avenue, Plotkin said, “there’s no such thing as a bad thing; God has plans for any event. This happened so there would be poles put in there in order to protect the congregation. So ultimately, this will turn into a good thing.”
DiSabato’s criminal preliminary hearing was set for last week, but has since been rescheduled for Aug. 18, said attorney David Chontos. Dr. Christine Martone, head of Allegheny County Jail’s behavioral clinic recommended DiSabato enter the Torrence State Hospital, where he will stay until the hearing, according to Chontos.
“Everyone was in agreement,” he said of the decision. “[DiSabato] was not at the courthouse. He was OK with that.”
(Justin Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.)