Security Initiatives: 2019 Year in Review

From Pittsburgh and Poway to NY and Jersey City – violent anti-Semitic incidents and bias crimes hit more frequently and closer to home through 2019. Security concerns mounted, as did Jewish Federation’s security response. 

Jewish Federation’s commitment to pre-empting crisis and creating safe and secure spaces for Jews and our neighbors of different faiths increased along with the work of its Security Task Force. 


The Security Task Force, made up of staff and community volunteers, is at the helm of Jewish Federation’s programs – from securing facilities to security training and assessments; to the implementation of an emergency communications network to ensure timely notifications of security incidents potentially impacting Jewish and other faith-based organizations. The Task Force monitors intelligence related to terrorism and public safety, investigates threats in partnership with local, state and federal law enforcement, and works with federal and state legislators to ensure and increase funding for the grant programs that enhance security in houses of worship and schools. Led by Amy Keller – Jewish Federation’s Director of Security Initiatives, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ Security Task Force prides itself on promoting available resources and programs to the community at-large. 

2019 Highlights:
 

Security

  • Aided the community and helped bring $1.4M security enhancement dollars to non-profit Greater Middlesex and Monmouth County organizations via the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program (NGSPP) and other sources of funding) 
  • Provided guidance on federal and state grant applications to 80+ organizations; and worked directly with 25 of them to fill out their applications. 26 total organizations in the community were awarded a Federal or State Grant
  • Assisted 20 local Jewish organizations with their security assessments. This year Security Task Force members were joined by representatives of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) critical infrastructure bureau, NJ State Police Troopers, local police and County Counter Terrorism Coordinators. As a team we were able to have hard conversations and discuss true risks to the individual organization. We helped them better understand scenarios and provided resources to enable them to acknowledge and implement directives with their boards and increase staff awareness of terrorist attacks. We helped educate them about everyday safety, workplace violence and everyday policies and procedures. 
  • Partnered with NJ Teach for legislation to increase school security funding for non-public schools from $75 per student to $150 per student 

Crisis Preparedness

  • Helped to officially certify two Jewish organizations with the County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to be go-to facilities in the case of crisis or emergencies.  
  • Involved in 25 investigative threats partnering with local, state, and federal law enforcement
  • Assisted local Jewish organizations with their grant award requirement for the Environmental and Historical Prevention (EHP) program. 
    • The Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation program integrates the protection and enhancement of environmental, historic, and cultural resources into FEMA's mission, programs and activities and ensures that FEMA's activities and programs related to disaster response and recovery, hazard mitigation, and emergency preparedness comply with federal environmental and historic preservation laws and executive orders; and provides environmental and historic preservation technical assistance to FEMA staff, local, State and Federal partners, and grantees and subgrantees

Education & Events          

  • Worked with the FBI Newark division to bring “Spams and Scams” to the community. Over 80 attendees learned more about recent fraud trends, methods used by con artists, and types of fraud while covering topics of debt collection, identity theft, imposter scams, banks & lenders, and more. The program was so timely and relevant that attendees requested the program be repeated in other areas of our community. 
  • Worked in partnership with the Praetorian Agency to execute two Civilian Use of Force training sessions. Brought about by the increasing interest of congregants carrying guns to synagogue services and programs, a total of 67 community leaders and local law enforcement from more than 35 organizations attended and learned about New Jersey’s strict laws and policies surrounding “Use of Force Laws”. The training provided legal aspects, principles of justification as well as liabilities and penalties for unlawful use. Another hot topic covered – the hiring of security protective services and understanding the differences in agencies and what to look for when hiring.
  • Sponsored Kidsbridge: When Anti-Semitism is in our own backyard, How Do Your Children Respond? with Neve Shalom, Congregation Beth Mordecai, East Brunswick Jewish Center and Temple Emanu-El. Students in grades 5-8 were invited to an interactive workshop where kids learned what to say and do when either they or someone they witness is harassed for being Jewish. Approximately 40 kids participated.
  • Supported Chhange’s annual colloquium, which brought together 1,500 students from across the state, in grades 6-12, to find and use their own voice to learn tolerance and combat hate.  
  • Annual support of the Law Enforcement Officer Training Program (LEO), a collaborative effort involving Chhange, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor, National Museum of African American History and Culture; and co-sponsored by Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey. The training uses the resources of the Museums, and the permanent exhibits, as a means of sensitizing the officers to their responsibilities in our diverse democratic society. This powerful experience makes the participants reflect deeply on their work and their role in society.  
  • Ongoing information sessions and talks by Dan Rozett, Manager, Community & Israel Engagement, and one of our own Task Force members, to educate the community on the national and local levels of anti-Semitism and how Jewish Federation is addressing this crisis
  • Jewish Federation participated in a Houses of Worship Security Seminar with its Security Task Force members and partners of other faith based religious facilities. Held at the Triumphant Life Church on Fort Monmouth and hosted by the 100-community member NJOHSP in collaboration with Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, the seminar featured presentations from federal, state and local security and public safety officials. Discussion included emergency planning, active shooter procedures, security assessments, grant opportunities and mitigations strategies.
  • Jewish Federation participated in a community program available to only 10 community leaders hosted by the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office and Monmouth County Chief’s Association. The agenda was training for Faith and Community leaders to experience some of the training provided for law enforcement officers. Discussions included bias consciousness in the community and against our officers, police tactical training experience and understanding use of force from a law enforcement perspective.  
  • Partnered with Rutgers University and the J-FAS (Jewish Faculty, Administration, and Staff to bring to the community, Deborah Lipstadt – Antisemitism Here and Now. In addition to being a partner in the programing of the event, we provided guidance on security of the Rutgers Hillel facility and the event attendees. Over 300 people attended.

Community Relations

  • Jewish Federation provided Local State and Federal Law enforcement with notifications of all major Jewish holidays, festivals and large events. Content included background holiday information and listings of when and where our organizations were holding services and events, with the request of extra security and vigilance.
  • Federation participation in quarterly meetings of the IAC (Interfaith Advisory Council) of NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Each quarter the IAC addresses a different topic and advises the group regarding the faith/organizations each participant represents. New Jersey Office of Homeland and Security Preparedness analysts also present security briefings. 
  • As a result of the tragic events in Jersey City, on December 19th, the NJ Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, requested an audience with Rutgers Jewish Students and local Jewish Community leaders to discuss antisemitism and security; and converse about how the tragedy in Jersey City affected the Rutgers community, as well as the community at large. There were 25 + students representing different grade levels, 45+ community leaders (including Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ), law enforcement, local and state officials, and several other community interested parties and some synagogue security committee leaders. The focus was for the students to ask questions and have general statement dialogue. Students brought up campus incidents that were never labeled Anti- Semitism. Although JFHNJ was not allotted speaking time – representatives spoke with individual students, and Director Maples from NJOHSP gave us a shout out of an example of a good community partner with law enforcement and a Jewish Community resource.
  • Jewish Federation participated in a Houses of Worship Security Seminar with its Security Task Force members and partners of other faith based religious facilities. Held at the Triumphant Life Church on Fort Monmouth and hosted by the 100-community member NJOHSP in collaboration with Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, the seminar featured presentations from federal, state and local security and public safety officials. Discussion included emergency planning, active shooter procedures, security assessments, grant opportunities and mitigations strategies.
  • Jewish Federation participated in a community program available to only 10 community leaders hosted by the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office and Monmouth County Chief’s Association. The agenda was training for Faith and Community leaders to experience some of the training provided for law enforcement officers. Discussions included bias consciousness in the community and against our officers, police tactical training experience and understanding use of force from a law enforcement perspective.  

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