You know how when you hear a certain word over and over again, you get tired of hearing it, even if it is important. For the Jewish community, and other communities around the globe, it seems that SECURITY has become that word. In fact, it feels like it is the word Jewish institutions have been thinking about the most over the past 6-9 months. Since the topic of security does seem to be on everyone’s mind, we felt it was important to share with you an article about security and how our community organizations are addressing this major concern in this issue of Jlife.
Security has always been a priority for Jewish organizations. However, following the tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and in Poway, it has become ever more evident of the need for our community organizations to not only re-examine their security plans but implement and update new ones.
I recently attended a security gathering sponsored by the ADL and the FBI to help local law-enforcement better understand these new risks. The information shared information gathered as part of the ADL’s annual audit, was both fascinating and disturbing. Not only are incidents of both physical altercations and anti-Semitic attacks significantly on the rise, but they are at levels never before seen in the over 45 years the ADL has conducted this type of report.
What we have witnessed following the recent shootings and attacks has not only impacted the Jewish community. It is now common to see security guards outside of some churches, mosques, and other houses of worship as the Jewish community is not the only one facing these issues.
One of the biggest challenges that the Jewish community is grappling with is the idea of whether we can continue to make our organizations open and welcoming, while at the same time making sure that people feel safe when they walk through the doors. This is a very important balance and is not being taken lightly. I can assure you that organizations are working hard to develop and strategize ways to consider this and address it.
In a similar way that airport security was ramped up, following 9/11, our synagogues and Jewish institutions are going to have to figure out what needs to be done to keep people safe.
The Jewish community is now facing the reality of a “new normal”. It is this new normal that we are going to have to come to terms with. We do not need to like it or be okay with it. In fact, it is perfectly normal for us to be saddened and afraid that we are facing it, and it will take some time to get used to it. However, we do need to accept it and understand it is here to stay. This does not preclude us from taking necessary actions and steps to ensure the safety of our community members within the Jewish community, on the contrary. It is something not only each of our organizations responsibilities, as well as our own, to do what we can to help. Because after all…it is here to stay.
This is why the Jewish Federation coordinated a security training back in December for our community’s organizational leadership to come together and learn from one another. And we will continue to provide resources and support to not only our community organizations but also to the community as a whole to help all of us be better prepared.
And remember, although it took us all a little while to get used to the TSA, I think it is safe to assume that we are now used to it and it feels like it has been around for more than 18 years. I am sure that sometime soon, we will feel the same away when we see security or security measures at our Jewish organizations.
JASON MOSS IS executive director of the Jewish Federation of the GREATER san gabriel and pomona valleys.