Keeping Our Community Safe

Our community is under threat. In fact, just a few days ago, the Westside JCC received an e-mailed bomb threat. Every day over the past few weeks, many of our Jewish Community Centers and schools throughout the nation have received threatening phone calls and e-mails.

We know that many of you are concerned and even scared. We understand your fears. As I’ve stated before, our Federation identifies our greatest challenges and opportunities and addresses them. We want to assure you that the security of you and your family is a top Federation priority.

Six years ago, I traveled to Washington, DC with our Chief Operating Officer Ivan Wolkind at the invitation of the Head of Homeland Security. We met with senior officials from Homeland Security, the FBI and the DC Police. We learned then of the potential threats that were facing our community. On that day, we understood that keeping our community safe and secure was one of our most pressing challenges. On the flight home, we began to develop the Community Security Initiative (CSI).

Today, CSI has five full-time staff — security specialists and analysts who are dedicated to this effort.

CSI has created a database covering 467 Jewish institutions and has already conducted over 300 site visits in order to increase security at day schools, synagogues and camps. We have a 24/7 hotline and an early warning system, and we work closely with local and national law enforcement as well as the Secure Community Network (SCN), the national homeland security initiative of Jewish Federations of North America.

We have trained over 1,500 teachers and students and launched Project Safe Classroom, which will make every student and every classroom safer. As in all our work, we are proactive and strategic.

This work has been done quietly — behind the scenes — but now we are going public. On Wednesday, March 15 at 5:00 PM, we will be holding a Security Response Town Hall at our headquarters at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard. This is an opportunity for our community to hear directly from the Los Angeles Chief of Police, senior members of local and national law enforcement and our CSI leadership. If you are interested in attending, please contact SLoughmiller@JewishLA.org.

We are committed to support, sustain and build our community. But first, we must protect it.

Jay Sanderson
President & CEO

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