High Holiday security: stay vigilant
High Holiday Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning Library
- 10 Simple Ways to Make Your Synagogue Safer During the Holidays and Year Round (PDF)
- JCRC-NY High Holiday Security Thinkplate®: 2014
- Access control considerations during High Holiday services (PDF)
- Houses of Worship and the High Holidays (PDF)
- Planning for the Unexpected – High Holiday Edition 2010 (PDF)
Synagogue-specific Security & Emergency Planning
- JCRC-NY: Sample Building Access Policies & Procedures
- JCRC-NY: Security & Emergency Preparedness Committees
- DHS: Potential Indicators, Common Vulnerabilities, and Protective Measures: Religious Facilities
- FEMA: Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship
- National Counter Terrorism Security Office, United Kingdom: Counter Terrorism Protective Security Advice for Places of Worship
Consider the following elements of heightened vigilance:
- Increase visible security measures. Someone planning an attack may look at your facility, conclude that it is defended and decide to go elsewhere. Several recent incidents also underscore that the presence of armed security and law enforcement personnel and the placement of security checkpoints do not guarantee that an attack will be averted or interupted. Nevertheless, their presence can enable the timely discovery and quick resolution of potential threats and reduce the lethality of terrorist attacks.
- Review your policies and procedures. How else can you send a signal to outsiders that your facility is a tough target? For example, does your staff do regular inspections of your facility looking for something that, “Just doesn’t look right?” If not, start now. If they do, should you increase the frequency. Review JCRC’s Sample Access Policies and Procedures to identify additional steps.
- Test your systems. OK, you’ve identified systems to screen your mail, respond to bomb threats and suspicious objects and you have an active shooters plan. The key question is: “Will they work in reality?” Do your panic buttons function? Test them (after you first alert the alarm company). Have you had tabletop exercises and drills covering multiple hazards? How can you make sure that your entire staff and constituencies are on their collective toes?
- Check in with your local police. For most Jewish organizations, September is the start of a new program year. Reach out to your local police. Offer them the opportunity to get to know your programs, your rhythms, your people and your building. Ask them for suggestions as to how to make your people safer.
- If you see something, say something. Think how to build a culture of security, because security is everbody’s business. If any of your staff, students, volunteers, congregants or clients sees or hears something suspicious they should feel comfortable to report it to the appropriate person in your facility and the information should be passed on to the police. In NYC the number is 1-888-NYC-SAFE. Elsewhere in New York State the number is 1-866-SAFE-NYS. Every tip is investigated.