By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency
Jerusalem / New York — October 2014 … The Secure Community Network (SCN) strongly reminds Jewish institutions that security awareness should remain a high priority focus of planning and preparations. Facilities that have instilled a sense of security consciousness into their organizations can remain open and welcoming, while maintaining appropriate levels of security preparedness, particularly during the busy High Holy Days period.
Advance planning with local law enforcement, trained ushers and greeters, and situational awareness can enhance levels of security while maintaining a comfortable, welcoming, albeit secure worship environment. By taking appropriate security measures, synagogues can both communicate a message of security consciousness and preparedness to congregants and guests as well as project an image of a hardened target which serves as a deterrent effect.
Synagogue staff, security volunteers and greeters should be on the lookout for suspicious persons and/or activity around their facilities, particularly during services and other gatherings. Suspicious activity, persons and vehicles should be immediately reported to local law enforcement and/or security personnel.
Security Planning Resources
This page features an archive of best practices from SCN, Synagogue Movements, Federations, Anti-Defamation League and others to provide you with the resource support for your security planning and to complement the High Holy Days Security Planning Checklist. We also strongly recommend and encourage you to remain in close contact with local law enforcement authorities and to include them in your security planning.
Please ensure that your staff and volunteers visit the SCN Homeland Security and Preparedness Training Center, which is a comprehensive online eLearning portal dedicated to training, video education, and other interactive content related to homeland security and safety.
The Secure Community Network (SCN) is part of the American Jewish community’s response to heightened security concerns in the United States. SCN has two main functions: (1) rapid information sharing in crisis situations and (2) enhancing security awareness at Jewish organizations and institutions to protect against terrorism and other threats.
The Secure Community Network serves as the central address for the Jewish community concerning matters of communal safety, security, and all-hazards preparedness and response. Through SCN, the organized Jewish community has established a coordinated approach for community wide notifications, crisis management and security measures emphasizing common standards for enabling Jewish communities throughout North America to embrace and evidence a culture of security awareness, preparedness and disaster recovery and resiliency.
SCN professionals offer expertise, guidance and assistance to Jewish organizations and institutions on protection against terrorism and other threats. They also operate the SCN crisis communication system that allows rapid dissemination of critical information to all SCN members.
SCN maintains close working relationships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, intelligence and counter-terrorism units, and others who provide advice on security and safety matters. SCN also maintains contact with major Jewish communities worldwide to share information and experience and to maximize resources.
In Israel, around 2,000 officers from special police units and the Border Police (MAGAV) will patrol across Israel this weekend, in particular in mixed Arab-Jewish cities, to prevent violent clashes as Jews commemorate Yom Kippur and Muslims celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha.
A spokesperson for the National Operations Branch of the Israel Police said they did not have any specific warnings or alerts about planned disturbances, but that they suspect that with the holiest day of the Jewish calendar overlapping this year with the Muslim holiday – a holiday of feasting and celebration – there is ample potential for violent clashes.
Recently, the Israel Police have held meetings with local Arab leaders and their Jewish counterparts in a number of mixed cities and Arab localities, in an effort to reach understanding and to prevent a repeat of the Yom Kippur riots six years ago in Acre. Those riots were believed to have been sparked after an Arab man drove through a Jewish neighborhood in the city during the Yom Kippur fast.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said: “There will be an increased police presence in East Jerusalem, Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate, where thousands of people will be making their way for Yom Kippur .
“Police units will respond if necessary to any incidents, with other backup units on standby.”
Public transport will be shut down during the holy day, along with seaports and land borders with Jordan and Egypt. Israel’s airspace will also be closed.