Category Archive: Common

Shifted to telework? Make sure you are secure.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security-CISA released the Telework Essentials Toolkit providing organization leaders, their IT staff, and employees recommendations for a more permanent telework solution beyond what may have been implemented as a quick fix or temporary solution.

The Toolkit provides three personalized modules outlining distinctive security considerations appropriate for each role:

  • Actions for executive leaders that drive cybersecurity strategy, investment and culture
  • Actions for IT professionals that develop security awareness and vigilance
  • Actions for teleworkers to develop their home network security awareness and vigilance

It is more important than ever that our partners like you are aware of cyber risks endemic to this new environment and are prepared with the tools to mitigate them. We encourage you to forward this notification and toolkit widely to other partners. With your support we can continue to develop a stronger, more resilient culture of cyber readiness from the c-suite to the end user.

This toolkit is available at, a webpage CISA established as a one-stop shop for telework cybersecurity guidance for critical infrastructure, government, and citizens. Since it was launched, several new products have been added for a variety of sectors. Here are just a few of the varied resources you will find.

  1.  DHS-CISA partners with CYBER.ORG, to focus on cybersecurity for K-12 educators and students, including a series of cyber safety videos. Located in the “Additional Telework Resources” section, the inaugural videos address video conferencing safety and how to avoid being duped by a suspicious email or phishing attack. The videos in this series are applicable to any work or business environment, not just the education audience.
  2. Many state and local 9-1-1 agencies shifted staff to remote working environments. Through our consistent and close collaboration with state and local governments, CISA published information to help this important first responder community manage this transition. Located in our “General Telework Guidance”, you can read about the best practices used by the Arlington County Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to rapidly stand-up telework procedures. Since then, we have seen entities across industries have servers forced temporarily offline because of ransomware attacks, poorly configured remote working tools, or unpatched vulnerabilities on their networks. Not only are these attacks costly (i.e. the cost in time and energy of responding IT staff, downtime costs etc.) but the hit to customer and worker confidence and trust can be equally steep.

Posted in Common

New York State COVID -19 Interim Guidance for Jewish High Holidays Observances

Click here to download a PDF copy of this NYS Department of Health Guidance

September 16, 2020

Planning for Services and Observances

  • We continue to recommend that indoor occupancy be restricted to the minimum number of individuals necessary to conduct the service but no more than 33% of the capacity of the space, or the limit of the number of people that can fit within the space while maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet at all times, and 12 feet if there is chanting or singing, whichever is the fewer number of people.
    • Gatherings in sukkahs can be considered outdoor religious events limited by the number of people who can fit at least 6 feet apart under the Sukkah roof. Social distance must be mandated during meals in the Sukkah and should be used to determine the number of attendees at congregational meals. Ventilation and outdoor air flow should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.
  • Social Distancing Indoor and Outdoor Services
    • All seating should be separated by at least 6 feet; 12 feet if there will be singing or chanting, irrespective if the services are indoors or outdoors.
      • Do this by removing seating or blocking off in between seats.
      • Only members of the same household can be closer than 6 feet.
    • Prevent congregating at closer distances by blocking off areas where people tend to gather, especially areas where children or teenagers tend to gather unsupervised.
    • Place 6 feet or 12 feet markers in standing areas and aisles to help individuals stay socially distanced.
    • When possible make aisles and staircases one direction only. If only one stairway is available, only one person should be on the stairway at a time.
    • Small spaces such as elevators should be limited to 50% capacity.
    • Holding or shaking hands, or other close physical contact, among people from different households during services or prayers should be strictly prohibited.
  • Face Coverings During Indoor and Outdoor Services
    • Face coverings must be worn at all times except while seated, provided all individuals are 6 ft. apart except for immediate household members, however individuals should be encouraged to wear them at all times during services or prayers even when seated. If singing or chanted is involved then a face covering must be worn even while seated.
    • Acceptable face coverings include but are not limited to cloth, surgical masks, and face shields when worn with a face mask underneath.
  • Suggestions for Reducing Interpersonal Contact
    • Limit in-person presence when possible.
    • Hold services outdoors when possible.
    • Offer multiple service times, including separate designated times for vulnerable populations.
    • Prioritize activities that allow for social distancing over those that do not.
    • Offer only self-served individually wrapped food and drink; provide enough space for attendees to be at least 6 ft apart when they eat or encourage attendees to take the food with them when they leave (e.g. whole apples not slices and packaged individual honey, challah rolls not passing a large challah).

Services and Observances

  • Screening of Attendees Prior to Entering the Building
    • Encourage attendees to take their temperature each time before leaving home/before holiday begins.
    • Anyone with symptoms or a temperature above 100 degrees F should stay home.
    • Implement mandatory health screening assessments asking about:
    • A person who answers yes to any of the screening questions symptoms must not be allowed to enter the gathering place and must be sent home with instructions to contact their healthcare provider for an evaluation and testing.
      1. COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days,
      2. positive COVID-19 test in the past 14 days,
      3. close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days; and
      4.  recent travel to a state listed on the NYS travel advisory, or to another country.

• Encourage Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Hygiene

    • Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds should be done:
      • Before and after eating
      • After sneezing, coughing, or nose blowing
      • After using the restroom
      • Before handling food
      • After touching or cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated
      • After using shared equipment and supplies
      • Before putting on and after taking off a face covering
    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or the corner of elbow.
    • Dispose of soiled tissues immediately after use.
  • Sounding the Shofar Safely
    • Individuals gathering to hear the shofar must be at least 12 feet away from the shofar blower at all times, and must be 6 feet apart from each other.
    • Shofars should be blown outdoors whenever possible.
    • When it is not possible to be outdoors, place a surgical mask over the wide end of the shofar and set the building ventilation system set to “maximal fresh air without recirculation.” An alternative is to sound the shofar through an open window with the shofar blower inside the building facing out the window.
    • One shofar should not be used by multiple people and shofars should not be passed from person to person to hold.
  • Suggestions for Reducing Interpersonal Contact
    • Consider offering several different meals at designated times to limit the number of attendees at each meal (e.g., community break the fast during or in community Sukkah).
    • Ask families to bring their own meals or offer only self-served individually wrapped food and drink.
    • Encourage families to limit holiday meals to household members.
    • Do not encourage communal dancing unless social distancing can be maintained, and face coverings are worn.
    • Consider alternatives ways to honor the traditions and intentions of Simchas Torah. Avoid hand holding, strenuous activity such as dancing in large groups in close spaces, passing items from person to person, and handing out treats. Safer practices include socially distanced group walk through building or neighborhood with designated Torah carriers, limited number of participants in socially distanced dancing, and prepackaged treat bags.

After Services

  • Routine Cleaning and Disinfection
    • Regularly clean and disinfect the location and ensure high risk areas used by many individuals or that are frequently touched are cleaned and disinfected more frequently.
    • Cleaning and disinfection must occur at least after each service.
    • Examples of priority areas for cleaning and disinfection include:
      • High contact surfaces that are touched by many different people such as chairs, tables, light switches, handrails, and doorknobs/handles
      • Restrooms
      • First aid station / health office
      • Restrooms
      • Dining areas
      • Shared equipment or items
    • Routine cleaning, including tasks such as vacuuming of high traffic areas or dust- and wet-mopping or auto-scrubbing floors, should continue to occur on a periodic schedule as operational considerations allow, which may range from at least daily to up to 72 hours.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection
    • Cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Individuals do not need to wear respiratory protection while cleaning or disinfecting but should use personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves) as recommended on product labels.
    • Step 1: Cleaning
      • Always clean surfaces prior to use of disinfectants in order to reduce soil and remove germs.
    • Step 2: Disinfection
      • Use the DEC list of products registered in New York State identified as effective against COVID-19. If those products are unavailable, disinfect surfaces using an EPA- and DEC*- registered disinfectant labeled to be effective against rhinovirus and/or human coronavirus. If these commercial products are unavailable, it is also acceptable to use a fresh 2% chlorine bleach solution (approximately 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 quart of water).
    • Step 3: Disposal
      • Place all used gloves and other disposable items in a bag that can be tied closed before disposing of them with other waste. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after removing gloves or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this NYS Department of Health Guidance

Posted in Common

High Holidays webinar recordings

The links to our High Holiday guidance can be found below:

Feel free to contact us at with any questions. Your Regional Security Manager will respond.

Best wishes for a happy, HEALTHY and safe New Year.

Posted in Common

Federal and NY State security grants updates

Eligible nonprofits can now apply for both state and federal grants to upgrade their security. Some requirements apply to both sets of grants.

  1. All not-for-profit organizations must be prequalified in order to do business with New York State and to apply for grants. See the options below, under the appropriate grant.
  2. All New York State applicants must submit their grants through the E-Grants system. If you are already registered, use your existing username and password. If you need to register download the E-Grants Registration Form.
  3. Not-for-Profit (NFP) organizations receiving an award greater than $50,000 are required to complete a Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire.  This form is available at .  Vendors can also file the Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire online through the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) New York State VendRep System.  To enroll and use the OSC NYS VendRep system, instructions are available at

For New York State assistance contact DHSES at 1-866-837-9133 or email them at To submit a question to us email to Click on the buttons below for the necessary forms and the most up-to-date information. Click to the Community Security Initiative (a joint program of UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY) tutorials below for more information and guidance.


Federal Grant

Hate Crime

New York State Grant

In New York, federal Request for Applications due on March 18, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. Any at-risk nonprofit is eligible to apply for grants up to $100,000. Note the NSGP-UA is for organizations within a designated Urban Area (in NY:  NYC, Long Island and Westchester). Outside the NY Urban Area apply for the NSGP-S grant.

Click on the button above for the official downloads. Here are some additional helpful presentations and sources:

Some changes from last year.

New York State has two possible grants (check the eligibility criteria) and the due date for both Request for Applications is March 16, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. Organizations eligible to apply may request up to $50,000 per site. 

Click on the button above for the official downloads. Here are some additional helpful presentations and sources:

Note: State grant applicants may prequalify using a “streamlined” process found at . Those prequalifying using the traditional prequalification process are prequalified for both grants.


 For the $25 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes grant, you must be:

  • a §501(c)(3) organization (see more details in the RFA); AND at least one of the following:
  • a nonprofit, nonpublic school; or
  • a nonprofit day care center; or
  • a nonprofit cultural museum, which is a building or site for the exhibition or promotion of arts and culture of a particular region or people; or
  • a nonprofit residential camp, which is occupied on an overnight basis by persons under eighteen years of age; or
  • a nonprofit community center (The best definition that we’ve seen is from FEMA, “A building, including attached structures and grounds, that is established and primarily used as a gathering place for a variety of social, educational enrichment, and community service activities consistent with the nonprofit’s IRS status.” (FEMA DAP9521.1) DHSES urges applicants that consider themselves to be “community centers” to do their best to explain why they are eligible.).

For the $20 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes for Nonpublic Schools and Day Camps grant, you must be:

To be considered for funding, eligible organizations must:

  • Have received a Recognition of Exempt Status Determination letter from the IRS pursuant to 26 USC §501(c)(3). Alternatively, the applicant may self-certify by providing a letter affirming that the organization qualifies as a §501(c)(3) organization and is exempt from tax pursuant to 26 USC §501(a); the organization must maintain tax exempt status throughout the life of the grant. If the organization’s tax-exempt status is jeopardized or placed into question at any point during the life of the grant, the organization must notify DHSES within fifteen (15) days;


  • Meet at least one of the following:
    • are a nonprofit nonpublic school; or
    • are a nonprofit day camp, which is occupied on a scheduled basis at any time between June 1st and September 15th by children under sixteen years of age for a period of less than twenty-four hours;


  • Be at risk of a hate crime due to ideology, beliefs, or mission as described by the applying organization under this RFA;


  • Be registered, have recently applied for registration and such application remains pending, or be exempt from registering with the NYS Attorney General’s Office, Charities Bureau;


  • Be prequalified, through New York State Grants Management at prior to application submission.


Recent Propaganda Releases by ISIS and Al-Qa’ida Promote Intensified Attacks by Supporters in the West

This assessment from NYPD has information that can be used to support both the federal and New York State grant applications. We highlighted issues concerning the Jewish community.

Open Source Assessment/February 10, 2020

Two recent extremist propaganda releases disseminated by ISIS’s al-Furqan Media and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Al-Malahem Media called on Salafi-jihadist supporters to intensify attacks as part of a retaliatory campaign of violence against the West, which may resonate with homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) based in the U.S. Both media campaigns referenced a broad variety of tactics, with ISIS’s statement promoting the use of conventional and chemical weapons, and AQAP’s message promoting simple, low-tech methods, as well as cyberwarfare campaigns.

  • While both propaganda statements called for an escalation in attack efforts, ISIS’s propaganda release notably emphasized a “new phase” geared specifically towards targeting Israeli and Jewish interests. ISIS previously referenced chemical weapons tactics in numerous propaganda graphics, demonstrating the group’s persistent support and interest in this attack method.  While the NYPD is not aware of any credible, active, or specific threats at this time, this statement, coupled with an already heightened threat environment, may serve as a catalyst for increased violence against Jewish communities.
  • Additionally, AQAP’s latest propaganda release may potentially have a stronger resonance with al-Qa’ida-aligned HVEs in the West following the recently confirmed death of Qasim al-Rimi, the leader of AQAP, who was killed in a targeted U.S. counterterrorism operation in Yemen.
  • On January 27, 2020, ISIS’s official media apparatus published a 37-minute Arabic-language audio statement attributed to its new spokesperson, Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi, marking his second speech since the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and spokesperson Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir in separate U.S. counterterrorism operations. While much of the statement—titled “God Destroyed Them and a Similar Fate Awaits the Disbelievers”—revisited ISIS’s narrative of survivability and endurance despite strategic setbacks, al-Qurayshi notably declared war on Israel, and called for ISIS supporters to broadly intensify their attack efforts worldwide.
  •  Throughout the speech, al-Qurayshi claimed that U.S. narratives about ISIS’s defeat in the Middle East are false and that the U.S. has historically been unable to defeat its adversaries, specifically referring to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. He asserted that ISIS will persist despite al-Baghdadi’s death. The statement appears to have been recorded in recent weeks, as it also referenced the death of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Major General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in early January 2020.
  • After congratulating ISIS militants for waging a retaliatory campaign of violence in response to the deaths of al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir, al-Qurayshi encouraged supporters to continue the revenge efforts by increasing the frequency of attacks. This specific statement could potentially resonate with lone offenders as a call to arms from core ISIS leadership.
  • Al-Qurayshi announced the beginning of a new stage for ISIS aimed at reclaiming Jerusalem. He specifically urged ISIS affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula and Syria to turn Israeli “settlements and markets into a proving ground for your rockets and chemical weapons.” He also ordered Muslims to thwart the U.S. peace plan referred to as the “Deal of the Century,” and implored Palestinians and Muslims worldwide to target Jews. While previous ISIS messaging also emphasized the targeting of Jewish and Israeli interests in an effort to inspire attacks by established ISIS affiliates and lone offender supporters, the emphasis on these targets in this audio message likely coincides with the latest proposed U.S. peace plan for the Middle East.
  • On February 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Qasim al-Rimi, the emir of AQAP and potential heir to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed in a U.S. military counterterrorism operation. Al-Rimi was previously featured in a propaganda video disseminated by AQAP on February 2 that claimed responsibility for the December 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, praised global al-Qa’ida-affiliated operations, and emphasized the importance of continued retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests. Given al-Rimi’s death, his latest message urging lone offender attacks against the U.S. may also catalyze HVEs to conduct retaliatory attacks.
  • AQAP’s propaganda video featured Qasim al-Rimi, often pairing his image with other al-Qa’ida ideologues. He declared that AQAP was responsible for the December 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola which was conducted by Saudi aviation student Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, who he claimed was a sleeper agent for AQAP. Similar to the retaliatory narrative in past AQAP propaganda messages, he stated that the shooting was in revenge for crimes committed by the U.S. across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Additionally, on February 4, the al-Qa’ida-affiliated al-Shabaab echoed this narrative by congratulating AQAP for its role in the Pensacola attack and encouraged continued lone offender operations in the West.
  • Al-Rimi connected the Pensacola shooting to other al-Qa’ida-affiliated operations, stating that it was part of a series of global attacks. He compared al-Shamrani to the group’s other perceived “heroes,” such as Nidal Malik Hassan, the November 2019 Fort Hood shooter, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers who orchestrated the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, in a likely attempt to encourage similar operations by HVEs in the West.
  • Most significantly, al-Rimi explicitly called for lone offender attacks in the U.S and told supporters to make sure their “chief concern” is “America.” He urged students, journalists, doctors, engineers, merchants, workers, Arab and non-Arabs to use low-tech, simple tactics, including vehicle ramming, firearms, and explosives. He also encourages viewers to consult AQAP’s Inspire magazine for tactical guidance.


There is currently no direct, credible or specific threat to New York City following these recent propaganda releases by ISIS and AQAP media entities; however, ISIS’s calls for attacks against Jewish communities highlights the importance of vigilance for suspicious activity indicators at similar locations, houses of worship, and Jewish faith community gatherings throughout the five boroughs. In recent months, authorities have disrupted numerous plots by malicious actors from across the violent extremist ideological spectrum who espoused anti-Semitic views and targeted the Jewish community.

Security personnel are advised to be on alert for suspicious behavior that could indicate pre-operational surveillance for an attack. Such behavior could include individuals taking photographs of security procedures in place, and asking probing questions of security/law enforcement officers stationed outside such locations.

Information sharing and prompt reporting of suspicious behavior indicators between the public, private-sector security personnel, faith community leaders, and law enforcement authorities remains vital to the deterrence, detection, and disruption of terrorist activity and the prevention of attacks.

If You See Something, Say Something – 1-888-NYC-SAFE (1-888-692-7233)