Federations’ security arm calls for awareness on holy days

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Security awareness should be a primary consideration for synagogues during the High Holy Days, the security arm of the national Jewish community said.

“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,” the Secure Community Network, an arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement posted Wednesday on its website, hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah. “Suspicious activity, persons and vehicles should be immediately reported to local law enforcement and/or security personnel.”

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The statement also called for “advance planning with local law enforcement, trained ushers and greeters, and situational awareness.”

Separately, the SCN’s director, Paul Goldenberg, said in an op-ed that cyber crime posed the next great threat to Jewish institutions.

“In today’s world, most federations, JCC community centers, organizations, synagogues, and other Jewish agencies maintain some of their most valuable assets in digital form,” Goldenberg said, noting an increase in cyber attacks, generally and on Jewish institutions. “Jewish institutions and synagogues have more sensitive information invested in their technology than ever before. Examples could include employees’ personal data, home addresses, monetary transfers, donor information, private materials about an organization’s plans, etc.”

Goldenberg said it was “imperative that we apply the same level of awareness and action to cyber security as we have to the physical security of our facilities.”