Weekly Reflection – August 23, 2019

Weekly Reflection – August 23, 2019

As I have written about previously, American Jews continue to enjoy many of the greatest privileges and protections this country and the world have to offer. And yet, tragic attacks and an uptick in anti-Semitic harassment remind us that we must remain vigilant and proactive in protecting ourselves from those who would seek to do us harm.

Over the past four years, the ADL has tracked a significant spike in anti-Semitic incidents in our country, ranging from assault to vandalism to the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in American history. I say this not to cause stress, but rather to underscore the importance of Federation’s ongoing work to help implement comprehensive safety and security measures in our community.

To that end, we are proud to partner with the Secure Community Network (SCN) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) to ensure that organizations across our area have the resources they need to keep their staff and constituents safe.

SCN is staffed by military and law enforcement experts, and serves as the official security and safety organization of the American Jewish community. We turn to them for answers to security questions, policy recommendations and best practices, security plans and implementation procedures, threat and risk analysis, crisis response, and more. Federation’s Security Director is funded by Federation, managed by SCN, and fully integrated into both the local and national security systems. Moreover, the Director works in close partnership with other security staff at local Jewish organizations to increase overall communication and effectiveness.

Through this Security Director and in partnership with SCN, we continue to offer vulnerability assessments to area organizations, multi-scenario security training sessions, and coaching in how best to respond to active shooter events. Additionally, I am proud to share that in the coming weeks, Federation will be rolling out a state-of-the-art emergency alert system called SCN Alert. This service will help our community respond expediently in the case of natural disasters, credible threats, and attacks.

The DC region is among only a handful in the United States that has successfully, on an ongoing basis, secured dollars for security of Jewish institutions on the federal, state, and local levels. Federation, in partnership with JCRC and SCN, also supports community security through our role in assisting organizations in applying for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Over $11.5 million has been infused into our community through the Program, including approximately $5.2 million for synagogues.

Thanks to JCRC, the community has received $650,000 in grants from state and county governments, in addition to the $11.5 million noted above. JCRC’s work has also helped the state of Maryland to set aside $2 million in grant funds for private schools and childcare centers at risk of hate crimes.

Federation has added to these efforts by raising funds from within the community and allocating over $135,000 in grants to local organizations. These funds are helping synagogues, day schools, and others add more police presence during peak times and make other immediate physical security improvements.

Most recently, and with guidance from our Security Director, Federation formed a Security Task Force, which is in charge of assessing and identifying ways to improve our community’s security in light of shifting realities. The Task Force has the mandate and opportunity to determine key security issues, bring attention to any gaps that exist, and pursue a strategic and agile approach to doing what we can to meet our community’s needs now and in the future. As always, we are grateful to local law enforcement who work in close contact with Federation to keep our community safe and thriving.

They say you should always hope for the best and plan for the worst. At Federation, we are committed to planning ahead and anticipating a wide array of contingencies to the best of our ability. Our true strength, however, comes from the hope we share for tomorrow and the work we do together to build relationships and foster understanding across Greater Washington. We are keeping an eye on potential threats, but just as importantly, we are continuing forward with confidence and joy as we work to strengthen a vibrant and welcoming community.

Shabbat Shalom,

Learn more about Federation’s security updates and resources.