Ira (Yitz) Jablonsky, 34, was an intern in the city’s Office of Emergency Management on Sept. 11, 2001. He was conferring with an associate about preparations for a drill that morning. They were standing outside of 7 World Trade Center when the first plane hit.
“I remember running back into 7 World and trying to help people evacuate the building because they didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “We then activated the command center on the 23rd floor. After the second plane hit, someone said we have to evacuate this building now. It later collapsed, but no one was hurt.”
Jablonsky, then 21, had been an intern for three months. The next week, he was hired by the agency as an official planner. He attended Touro College from 5 to 10 p.m. and worked at the agency from midnight to 8 a.m.
“I worked with commissioners and first responders — men who were real heroes — who lived to help others,” he said. “I was studying management and marketing … [but] I knew in my head I wanted to help people. I remember my boss, John Odermatt, who was then a police inspector, coming into the command at 7 World that morning and he goes, “I’m going out there to help people stay safe.’ And I thought one day I want to be exactly like that. … He was a great mentor. And when I told him I was going to enter the police academy, he said, ‘I couldn’t think of a better job for you.’”
An Orthodox Jew, Jablonsky said he believes there may be only a few dozen other kipa-wearing officers. A yeshiva graduate who studied Talmudic law in Israel, Jablonsky joined the New York City Police Department 13 years ago. He is now a lieutenant, serving as commanding officer of community affairs in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South.
“We wear blue jackets and are out there making people feel that the police department is great,” he said. “We provide a personal touch.”
Getting along: Lt. Jablonsky is a peacemaker who is able to be able to deal with "anyone from any denomination." "The only thing you leave is your name, and you have to polish it everyday — that is what I live by," he said.