Jewish schools, institutions join security conference call

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A conference call on school safety organized by the security arm of two national Jewish umbrellas drew over 800 participants.

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The call Thursday was organized by Secure Community Network, which is affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Paul Goldenberg, SCN’s director, said the call, initiated in the aftermath of a massacre of first-graders at a Connecticut school last month, featured speakers including top officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and drew participants from Jewish schools, synagogues, summer camps and Jewish community centers, among others.

The presenters urged participants to run simulation exercises, noting that a number of these were available from SCN.

Following the presentation, a number of participants posed questions about the wisdom and efficacy of posting armed guards at schools.

Goldenberg said such specifics were best left up to individual institutions, but noted that it was critical for institutions to strike a balance between security and openness.

“Educational institutions must be safe havens for children,” he said, “but if a schools is not welcoming, children will respond negatively.”

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Ron Kampeas is JTA’s Washington bureau chief.

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