Home Voorhees News The top stories of the year

The top stories of the year

A new Babe in baseball, and the old problem of antisemitism

As we come to the end of 2023 and look forward to the new year, the Voorhees Sun looks back at the top three stories that stood out this year in township.

Voorhees police detectives Chris Tomasco and Chase Waldman were cited for apprehending a group of four armed men who robbed a Verizon store in 2022.

Nabbing thieves

Earlier this year, Voorhees detectives Chris Tomasco and Detective Chase Waldman were honored with an award for outstanding police Work from the Camden County Detectives Association. 

The award cited their apprehension of four armed men who robbed a Verizon store in Voorhees in 2022, breaking into the store while it was closing and assaulting and tying up the store’s clerks to grab thousands of dollars in phones and electronics. 

The Sun featured the detectives in the April story “Voorhees detectives honored for armed robbery apprehensions” by Patrick McDaid.

Tomasco and Waldman were called to the robbery scene a few minutes after the thieves fled and quickly coordinated with Philadelphia police. Tomasco said the investigation was one of the first times he had to cooperate with that department in such a high-level crime. 

“We regularly work with the (surrounding) police departments,” recalled Tomasco, who was also named the association’s chaplain. “The detective association is a great way to network, so we all know one another very well. There’s a lot of coordination and helping out one another.”

Waldman echoed his partners’ statements, alluding to the never-ending learning that comes along with the nature of police work.

“The nice thing about the detective association is that it puts a face to the name,” he explained. “We’re always talking to one another on the phone. The detective association is about sharing ideas, experiences and training opportunities. We’re constantly learning from one another. If you stop learning in police work, you should just retire.”

The crime at the Verizon store was a “rarity” in Voorhees, Waldman and Tomasco maintained, noting the community is one of the safest in South Jersey. But police work is police work, and the approach, despite the details, doesn’t change.

“It’s like any other case,” Waldman pointed out. “You are just putting together a puzzle and eventually down the road you have to convince other people – a jury – that they did it… (The nature of the crime) certainly makes the stakes of the crime higher, but the process is more or less the same.”

Photos courtesy of Toronto Blue Jays
“What excites me most is that there is no one more deserving,” Eastern High School head baseball coach Robert Christ said of alumnus Davis Schneider, who stepped up to the plate in his first MLB at bat in August with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Swinging away

When Davis Schneider stepped up to the plate in his first Major League Baseball at bat in August, ensuing events became a blur.

Swinging away on a 1-1 breaking pitch against Boston Red Sox starter James Paxton, the 5-foot-9-inch second baseman and Eastern High School alumnus uncorked a solo home run over the Green Monster at historic Fenway Park.

We caught up with the major leaguer in an September story headlined, “Another ‘Babe’ makes baseball history,” by Alex Murphy.

From being picked in the 28th round of the 2017 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, to that huge hit in Fenway, all Schneider wanted was a chance to play. Not only has he gotten that chance, he’s having one of the hottest starts by any hitter in baseball history.

“When I had my first at bat, everything kind of happened so fast,” Schneider recalled. “I don’t even remember taking a swing or anything like that. It just happened … That weekend, same thing.

“It was a really cool moment.”

Through the beginning of September and his first 21 games in the bigs, Schneider had the highest slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of any hitter in MLB history, and is batting .403, with seven home runs and 19 RBIs.

His first weekend saw Schneider record nine hits in three games, the first player in MLB history to have such numbers in his first three big-league games. After reaching base four times on Sept. 8, he tied the modern-day record for most times on base through a player’s first 21 games by reaching base 46 times.

“What excites me most is that there is no one more deserving,” Eastern head baseball coach Robert Christ said. “Davis is such a good person. His character is phenomenal. He’s just a salt-of-the-earth-type kid and he’s got an amazing work ethic.”

Schneider’s journey began at Eastern, where he made varsity as a freshman and eventually played third base for the Vikings. He was one of the leaders of the school program, one of the best players in the Olympic Conference, and a budding star.

In the halls at Eastern are jerseys that represent some of the best players who went there. From field hockey to baseball, football to women’s soccer, the Vikings have a decorated history of athletic excellence that includes the NFL’s Logan Ryan and Eli Apple and field hockey Olympian Rachel Dawson.

And Davis Schneider.

“Seeing those names up there, it’s pretty cool because there’s been a lot of talent that’s come out of Eastern,” Schneider noted. “Now being one of those people, it’s pretty special, because when I was in high school, you walk through those halls every day, you see those jerseys up there and think, ‘Damn, that would be cool to be up there and be part of that group.'”

Schneider has been nicknamed Babe in Toronto, and Babe is the talk of the town, a fan favorite who quickly became an American League Rookie of the Year candidate. But just getting an opportunity to create his own MLB story is all Schneider has wanted from the start.

“I played in the minors for six-and-a-half years and I had a lot of rough spots throughout those years,” he acknowledged. “Getting that call from the same organization that drafted you was a big deal …

“They want me to be here, so I have to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Taja Johnson/The Sun
More than 800 listeners gathered at Congregation Beth El to hear Noa Tishby speak about the rights of Jews.

Voice against antisemitism

Another important story this year was about Noa Tishby’s visit to Congregation Beth El in Voorhees on Dec. 12.

More than 800 gathered at the congregation to hear Tishby – renowned for her multi-faceted roles as a mother, author, former Israeli actress, ambassador, content creator and antisemitism activist – speak passionately about the rights of Jews.

We featured Tishby’s visit in a December article headlined, “I took being Jewish for granted,” by Taja Johnson.

Tishby engaged in a dialogue moderated by Sid Brown – CEO of National Freight Inc.  that touched on critical issues surrounding antisemitism, education and the challenges now faced by Jewish communities worldwide as the Israel-Gaza war goes on. She also shed light on her personal journey as a native of Tel Aviv and her ongoing mission to raise awareness and rally support for the cause she champions.

During a discussion at the congregation on her transition to the U.S., Tishby candidly acknowledged that at that time, as she initially introduced herself, she would highlight all of her experiences – except for being Jewish. She also recounted taking her heritage for granted.

“I took Israel for granted, I took being Jewish for granted,” Tishby recalled. “I thought antisemitism was not a thing anymore, for real. When I moved to America, I started thinking, ‘What is happening?'”

Tishby delved into the recent rise of antisemitism, which she emphasized is not merely a local or regional issue, but a global concern with implications for national security.

“What is happening in Israel is a national security issue,” she insisted.

One of the key points Tishby stressed at the congregation event is the importance of educating younger generations comprehensively, not shying away from challenging topics such as ethnic cleansing.

“The younger people need to be educated with the basic stuff too,” she explained, arguing for a more inclusive and transparent approach to education.

In addressing plans to engage with college students, Tishby related the pivotal role of education in combating ignorance and fostering understanding.

“If we are educated on the topic, then we can educate them,” she affirmed, underscoring the importance of knowledge dissemination.

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