Our security concerns are ramping up
As you might imagine, a lot of things come across my computer screen each day. Whether it is what is taking place in Israel, updates from our local synagogues, information about how upcoming legislation at both the federal and state level could impact our Jewish community and many other “important” pieces of information. However, what I am finding myself spending more time each week revolves around security.
Recent studies from all across the country have continued to show that American Jews are concerned about their safety. While the surveys and studies were much more focused on safety as it pertains to not being a target for an antisemitic incident, this concern has dramatically increased as of late with the significant increase in violent mass shootings.
As I have previously shared in this column, security is a very big deal to me and I want everyone in our community to feel as safe as possible. It is why for a couple of years before COVID started, the Jewish Federation coordinated a series of training sessions – both with our local Jewish professionals and our larger community. And we also established a Security Council so those individuals who are working on security at our local synagogues could come together to share ideas and learn from one another.
Over the last few months, I have been working very closely with Secure Community Network (SCN) to develop a comprehensive community-wide security plan that the Jewish Federation is planning to roll out within the next several weeks that we hope will make people feel safer here in the greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. The plan will emphasize the need for more trainings and drills, working closely with our community partners (our synagogues) to help ensure they are doing everything they can to secure their facilities, strengthen our connection with local law enforcement, and more. Please be on the lookout for this important information.
My focus on security has broadened a bit and is moving into our interfaith community as well. What I am finding is that since the Jewish community has been a target for so long, we have spent quite a bit of time thinking about, developing, and implementing security measures for a long time. However, even though there have been a handful of churches that have been targeted recently, the non-Jewish world, especially smaller churches and other houses of worship are ill-prepared, and in many cases, don’t know even where or how to start. I am hoping that the Jewish community can support other religious institutions to better prepare.
I hate to say it, but the way things have been going in society right now and the constant news of mass shootings, we need to change our mentality around security. In my mind, the way we can begin to do that is to begin to shift our mindset away from “if this will happen” to “when it happens.” By doing this and beginning to adopt this way of thinking, we will be able to focus better and be prepared. And, if we wind up never needing or using the preparation or security training we receive, then we are only out the time we spent preparing to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. And to me, that is time well spent.