25 August 2021
According to data from the ADL, 2020 was the third-highest year on record for antisemitic incidents since the organization began tracking them in 1979. In May 2021 alone, there was a 75% spike in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. as Israel was fighting Hamas. And the Pew Research Center 2020 report on Jewish Americans released this summer similarly revealed that a majority of American Jews personally feel less safe than they did five years ago with many having personally experienced antisemitic acts.
Now, with the High Holidays quickly approaching—and as we plan to gather in person as soon as possible—it’s more vital than ever that we learn from and listen to our security professionals. We have a responsibility to one another and to our community as a whole to ensure we stay vigilant and safe.
Below, you’ll find an update on how Federation and our partners at the Secure Community Network (SCN) are working to keep our Jewish community safe, today and for the future.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to connect directly, I’d love to hear from you. And as the summer winds to a close and we prepare for the High Holidays, I wish you and your loved ones a Shanah Tovah: a very sweet, healthy, and happy New Year.
FEDERATION FOCUS: AUGUST 2021
Ensuring the security of our Jewish community is essential to Federation’s work, because every member of our community deserves to engage and participate safely in Jewish communal life. In partnership with SCN, and guided by security expert Robert Graves, Federation’s and SCN’s Regional Security Advisor, we continue to enhance Jewish Greater Washington’s safety, security, and preparedness.
ENSURING A SAFE & SECURE JEWISH COMMUNITY
- Securing Critical Government Funding
Security funding is a vital part of our continued work to build and maintain resilient Jewish communal organizations throughout Greater Washington. This year, our security experts helped ensure that agencies across our Jewish community received funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). NSGP dollars provide support for target-hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities, including planning and training, to nonprofit organizations at high risk of terrorist attacks.Throughout the application cycle, our security team supported local organizations by conducting 35 facility assessments, hosting eight Zoom workshops on NSGP applications, and providing 45 security consultations, including grant application reviews. As a direct result of these efforts, 28 Greater Washington Jewish community organizations obtained nearly $3.5 million in federal security funding—an increase of more than 70% compared to 2020.Over the coming 36-month implementation period, our security team will continue to support grant recipients to ensure this crucial funding is used completely and effectively.
- Building Communal Security Expertise
In addition to supporting grant applications, Robert and Deputy Regional Security Advisor Chris Usher host weekly security training conversations for community and agency leaders. Topics have included trends in community safety, best practices, and techniques to partner with law enforcement, planning and preparation for active threat events, and crisis management planning. These sessions are helping our community leaders strengthen their own understanding of how to secure their institutions—from synagogues to schools to other agencies, and we will all be safer for their learnings. We look forward to continuing this series of learning opportunities this fall and encourage every communal organization to register for updates and actively participate.
ON THE HORIZON: STRENGTHENING OUR COMMUNAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL
Federation’s commitment to strengthening our communal relationship with Israel has continued with the work of our Israel Task Force (ITF). This group of diverse lay leaders first convened in March, driven by shared interest in and passion for Israel. Since then, the ITF has engaged in constructive conversations on Greater Washington’s connections with Israel, including how to focus our investments and create opportunities for rich dialogue and immersive experiences, both locally and in Israel. This fall, the ITF will share their recommendations to shape Federation’s Israel strategy for the coming years, and we look forward to sharing more specifics on that soon.
Federation has also welcomed new shlichim (Israeli emissaries) to Greater Washington. For several years, our local shlichim initiative has been widely respected and replicated across North America. We are thrilled to continue our collaboration with The Jewish Agency for Israel as we host Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh, the first Druze shlicha and former Member of the Israeli Knesset, who will balance national and local responsibilities and bring a unique and important perspective to our work and community, and Hagai Dagan Schlachter, who will oversee our delegation of Washington community shlichim. We are very pleased to have Gadeer and Hagai, along with a number of other shlichim throughout Greater Washington, help shape unique experiences and conversations that will deepen our relationships with Israel and Israelis. I know they both look forward to meeting with many of you over the coming months.
Ensuring the security and vibrancy of our Jewish community is truly a collective effort. Your continued generosity and dedication to a strong Jewish future helps Federation provide these ongoing and essential opportunities for learning and connection that strengthen our community. We are tremendously grateful for your support and thank you for sweetening our Jewish community. May this New Year bring only joy, health, and blessings to us all.