Security/Emergency Information

Lessons learned: Common Sense and Vigilence Prevail

Posted on April 12, 2011

The suspect in the Santa Monica bombing was arrested yesterday. The backstory is interesting:

  1. He arrived in Cleveland and went to an Orthodox synagogue, asked to see the rabbi. His story was compelling . . .he was traveling to NYC for treatment at Sloan-Kettering and needed a meal and a place to stay. 
  2. Most of the synagogue members do not watch TV or view the internet, so the suspect was not immediately recognized by the rabbi or other members. Complicating matters, the suspect knew that his picture was published and he had trimmed his beard. Fortunately, one of the members had seen the picture on a Jewish news blog. Although the member wasn’t positive that the individual was indeed the suspect, the member eventually called the appropriate law enforcement officials.

Lessons learned:

  1. Get information. Jewish institutions should be receiving regular notifications and alerts from their local law enforcement officials and other sources. This is especially true in communities that don’t usually monitor the media. Someone should be sharing such information with others in the congregation.
  2. Give tzedakah, but use common sense. Many of us have been suspicious of “schnorers”. Jewish tradition encourages us to be generous and we should be. At the same time, we should give in an appropriate fashion.
    • Don’t offer home hospitality or hospitality in a synagogue unless someone comes with a verifiable reference (e.g., rabbi to rabbi) — and you verify it! In this case the suspect could not offer a reference, so the rabbi arranged for a room in a local motel.
    • Don’t give anyone your credit card number (I know that this sounds obvious but people have been burned). 
  3. If it “Just doesn’t look right” it probably isn’t. People can and do make up convincing stories. Look for verifiable details and double check items that can be confirmed.
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