Over 50 counselors participated in security training for eight camps run by Chabad Lubavitch of Long Island.

A reinforced door on a synagogue can save countless lives. Concrete bollards can prevent a car ramming. And in the case of an emergency incident at a school, a phone app is in the works that will, with a single press of a button, immediately alert all faculty and staff while simultaneously notifying law enforcement authorities.

Security Assessments Come First

For many Jewish institutions, the first step in updating security is simply assessing their vulnerabilities and learning what’s available to make their buildings safer. Security assessments are also an important step in applying for government security funding.

That’s why in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, UJA directed $1 million to provide security assessments for more than 180 Jewish day schools, synagogues, and community centers.

Our partner, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), has the expertise to help facilitate these assessments, as well as to provide security trainings.

Loans to Cover Security Costs

Once nonprofits are awarded government security funding, they are expected to pay all costs upfront and submit receipts for government reimbursement. For institutions without large reserves that poses a challenge. So UJA offered a solution. Through our partner, the Hebrew Free Loan Society, we’ve been able to provide interest-free loans to nonprofits that qualify for government security grants but don’t have the cash on hand to pay for upgrades before being reimbursed.

With security still a pressing issue for Jewish institutions in the New York area, UJA is investing an additional $4 million to help significantly enhance our community’s security capabilities. Funds will support a staff of regional security directors, under the auspices of JCRC-NY and working with the Westchester Jewish Council.  The funds will also enhance a communication system to connect all Jewish institutions in New York, allowing for real-time notifications and alerts as needed.

We asked some of the leaders of Jewish institutions about their experiences working on security issues to date. This is what they shared:

 

Rabbi Steven Conn
Plainview Jewish Center

“After Pittsburgh, we tried to apply for a federal security grant and realized we needed a more professional and thorough security assessment. When UJA’s grant became available through JCRC-NY, we had their expert come in and do an in-depth review of the vulnerabilities we needed to address. JCRC-NY has also offered to help us as we begin dealing with bidding and contractors, and connected us to other synagogues going through the same process. We don’t feel alone in this anymore.”

 

Rabbi Tuvia Teldon
Regional Director, Chabad Lubavitch of Long Island

“I met with David Pollock (JCRC-NY associate executive director, and director of public policy & security) after Pittsburgh. We talked about things we need to do to secure our sites around Long Island. I hadn’t thought about security for camps, but David raised the issue and it was a point well taken. We have eight camps on Long Island, so I asked them to send all their counselors in for a training. Around 50-60 counselors took part, and it was very productive. We all left feeling more prepared if there was ever, G-d forbid, to be an incident.”

 

Rabbi Dovid Kramer
Executive Director, Yeshiva of South Shore

“We have three buildings on our site and were granted $150,000 through New York State’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program. Hebrew Free Loan Society provided us with the funds upfront, allowing to do the work which was then reimbursed by the government. We used the funding for fencing, cameras, emergency lockdown equipment, reinforced windows, and doors. We have 700 children and 125 staff. We need to be vigilant in preparation for any emergency.”

 

Executive Director, JCC*

 “Our JCC has an early childhood center on the ground floor with big beautiful windows. Twenty years ago, natural light was the priority. But as times have changed, it became clear we needed to upgrade security. We qualified for government funding, and UJA, through the Hebrew Free Loan Society, helped us get a loan so we could pay our vendors upfront. Among the security upgrades, we put higher quality cameras all around the perimeter of the building. Additionally, we added film on the windows so no one can see in, and shatterproof glass. Now, we’re borrowing again to put up bollards to prevent car rammings. We want to remain a warm and vibrant center; there’s no reason to live in fear.”

* Because of the details mentioned, we’ve chosen to not identify the JCC.