In the aftermath of the killings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, we must face the reality that there is an ongoing threat to the Jewish community.
We, the undersigned rabbis, entrusted with the lives and safety of our congregants, promise to undertake The Seven Steps listed below.
To save lives and deter attacks, we commit to action.
1. We will form a security committee and appoint someone to oversee security matters.
Every community has unique concerns and challenges when they think about security. Having a security committee will help to ensure the safety and comfort of the congregation; having one individual who oversees this effort will ensure follow-up.
2. We will conduct an assessment of our facility.
Developing a security strategy begins with understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our facility and organization. An assessment – conducted by reputable professionals familiar with the unique needs, requirements and challenges of the Jewish community – will allow for the development of an effective security strategy.
3. We will develop a detailed security strategy for a variety of scenarios.
Having a security strategy that addresses the strengths and weaknesses identified in the assessment, and which takes into account the unique status of each institution is critical. This must include policies and plans on what to do during an emergency.
4. We will address access issues.
In October, a locked door was the only thing that stopped a gunman in Halle, Germany from attacking congregants in a synagogue. Ensuring that all facilities have a single main entrance that can be locked and is monitored is vital to security.
5. We will train. Then train again.
Security is a nitty-gritty business. Security plans need to be practiced regularly to be effective in an emergency. Staff and ushers must be trained to recognize suspicious activity and know how to respond. As many people as possible should be trained in what to do in an emergency, from fire and natural disasters to active shooter threats.
6. We will build relationships with local law enforcement.
Inviting local law enforcement to our facility builds relationships. They need to know the layout of our facility and how the community uses it. In an emergency, a few seconds can save lives.
7. We will have first aid and medical supplies.
Every facility should have a functional AED, first aid kits and stop-the-bleed kits to use in an emergency.