Jewish, law enforcement communities talk preparedness following Newtown and other attacks
Members of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County's security council - Harv Straus, left, and Marc Belfer - talk before a security briefing at the Monmouth County Fire Academy on Friday. (Photo by Rob Spahr / NJ.com)
FREEHOLD – Dozens of leaders from area Jewish and law enforcement communities met at the Monmouth County Fire Academy on Friday to discuss emergency preparedness in the wake of the Newtown shootings and other recent attacks.
"The purpose is to engage the Jewish community in a partnership with law enforcement on best practices when it comes to emergency management, preparedness, training and understanding the various threats that could impact the Jewish community institutions such as synagogues, schools, campuses and community centers," said Doron Horowitz, a senior advisor with Secure Community Network.
Secure Community Network facilitated the four-hour briefing with the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
Members of the jewish and law enforcement communities take part in a table-top exercise during a safety briefing at the Monmouth County Fire Academy on Friday. (Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County)
"This introduces security principles and practices to help members of the Jewish community, across the board, in ultimately mitigating the threats against them," said Horowitz, adding the threats discussed included anti-Semitism and active shooter scenarios, such as the Newtown school shootings. "These are issues that affect not only Jewish communities, but all communities across America."
The Secure Community Network has hosted several similar briefings – which includes presentations and table-top exercises - but Friday’s was its first in New Jersey, Horowitz said.
"Tabletop exercises are about preparing and empowering our leaders to plan and execute in the face of crisis," Paul Goldenberg, the national director of the Secure Community Network, said via email. "Today’s exercise will pay measureable dividends towards building upon the culture of security we’ve sought to instill in our organizations and communities."
Ariella Raviv, director of community impact for the Jewish Federation, said representatives from about 15 of Monmouth County’s roughly 25 Jewish institutions were expected to be in attendance, as well as representatives from institutions inMiddlesex and Ocean counties.
"We believe that the security of our institutions is something that we can’t compromise on, especially with our proximity to the shore and New York, and especially with the many recent school shootings that have taken place in public schools, the increased anti-Semitism in parts of Europe and specifically theattacks last year on synagogues in northern New Jersey," said Raviv, adding there are approximately 75,000 Jewish people living in Monmouth County, which is about 12 percent of the county’s population.
"We’re hoping that this is a practical workshop that empowers our volunteers and professionals to step up and take serious steps to protect their institutions and educate their members on how to have a keen eye for insecurities that may exist," Raviv said.
Organizers said the main theme throughout the workshop was the importance of collaboration in strengthening the community as a whole.
"This is a collective effort and responsibility, rather than an individual one, so that there’s consistency and that as a community we all act under the same guidelines. And it also assists law enforcement so we can understand what they’re doing and so they understand what we’re doing," Horowitz said. "The sum is greater than its parts."