The events this past weekend at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas are a sobering reminder that antisemitism continues to plague Jewish communities here in Los Angeles and around the world. I am so incredibly grateful for the vital work of law enforcement officials, first responders, and community organizations who ensured that Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and the other hostages were able to return home safely.
From the moment we learned of this incident, The Jewish Federation team sprang into action, coordinating agencies and communications across our community to ensure that we were all safe and secure. Unfortunately, being on edge and being vigilant is now very much part of the American Jewish experience. In the past few years, antisemitism has reached frightening and unprecedented levels in the United States, with some of the most terrible incidents happening here in Los Angeles. On Sunday night, I spoke on BBC World News about this new wave of antisemitism and what role The Jewish Federation plays in training and securing our community through our Community Security Initiative (CSI).
CSI coordinates day and night with federal, state, and local emergency services to analyze threats on an ongoing basis. CSI also serves a unique role in our community, coordinating the protection of every Jewish school, synagogue, summer camp, and organization in Jewish Los Angeles. To date, CSI has visited over 300 local synagogues, schools, and other institutions and trained over 4,000 people in safety and security awareness. Being a part of this network helps ensure that if a threat arises at any location, we are all prepared.
Our work securing the Jewish community locally and globally must go from strength to strength. We join the The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in calling on Congress to double funding for FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to allow Jewish institutions and others targeted by hate, violence, and threats to protect their communities.
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) has been an important tool to help secure Jewish and other communities that face regular threats to their safety and well-being.
The security of the Jewish people is at stake and this not a time for partisan politics.
Let us all also remember that we are not defined by antisemitism. To be a Jew is to love life and be an advocate for peace and justice. Let not those who hate us define us.
Let us stand proud and strong for who we are. Am Yisrael Chai — the People of Israel live!
Rabbi Noah Farkas
President & CEO