Security has been on all of our minds a great deal lately. The outbreak of bomb threats against Jewish community institutions, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the spread of anti-Semitic graffiti have been deeply unsettling, made more so by incidents happening in our own backyard--the February 27 bomb threat against the Stroum Jewish Community Center and the spray-painting last night of anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying graffiti on the outside of Temple De Hirsch Sinai's Old Sanctuary. The accelerating number of incidents prompted all 100 U.S. senators this week to sign a letter to senior federal law enforcement and homeland security officials urging swift action to deter threats and help Jewish institutions improve their security.
In our region, Jewish organizations can turn to SAFE Washington for security services. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is the hub of SAFE Washington, a Mark Bloome initiative that, over the past eight years, has worked and continues to work closely with law enforcement agencies and security professionals facilitating real-time communications, training and preparedness resources, at no charge, for over 100 Jewish organizations in Washington State.
To address the current situation in our community, the Federation is dedicating additional resources to expand the depth and breadth of SAFE Washington services that we provide. The goal is to assist the community with its changing security needs in the following ways:
SAFE Washington is making specific outreach efforts to organizations that operate Jewish cemeteries to ensure they are aware of the service.
SAFE Washington will supply organizations with names and contact information for qualified security consultants that Jewish organizations can engage for carrying out risk assessments of their facilities, developing emergency response and communication plans, and identifying needed security equipment.
The Federation maintains an Emergency Capital Needs Fund through which eligible organizations can obtain a loan for security upgrades. Click here for specific eligibility criteria and the program’s scope.
Assistance with Security Grants
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security‘s Nonprofit Security Grant Program has been an important source of security equipment funding for Puget Sound Jewish organizations, totaling $1.3 million since the program was established. Federal grant applications can be complex and require a substantial amount of staff time to prepare. SAFE Washington continues to offer to assist organizations that need help preparing Nonprofit Security Grant applications.
Cameras and other essential security equipment can be expensive. SAFE Washington will work with Jewish organizations to negotiate volume purchase discounts from qualified equipment vendors.
Best Practices Training
If an emergency strikes, organizations should follow best practices recommended by security experts. SAFE Washington can arrange for training that will help Jewish organizations institute best practices to protect people’s lives during emergencies. Yesterday, we held a five-hour SAFE Washington training and over 100 community members attended. We will continue to arrange for in-depth training with appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The disturbing increase in threats has brought increased attention to the need for security, but security is critical during quieter periods as well. Preparedness, vigilance and resilience are the keys to countering danger at all times, so that Jewish organizations can focus on the day-to-day work of serving our community, and so all of us can go about our lives. That is why SAFE Washington is here.
We urge Washington State Jewish organizations to contact us and learn more about how SAFE Washington can serve their security needs. SAFE Washington gives Jewish communal professionals essential tools for protecting our community. Together, we stand against hate and intolerance; together we are strong.
Chag Purim Sameach.