Last week we observed Yom HaShoah, a remembrance of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Sadly, the admonition to ‘never forget’ is unnecessary in a world where hatred and violence directed towards the Jewish people remains commonplace.
The assaults on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in San Diego and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh are only the most recent reminders of the lethal impact of anti-Semitism and the legacy of hate in modern society. Recent data from the ADL reveals “near-historic levels of anti-Semitism in 2018, including a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults.”
With this in mind, we’d like to share information related to security concerns in our Detroit community, and offer some perspectives and resources that may benefit our community members.
Ongoing Community-Wide Security Efforts
The Jewish Federation and its partners have long recognized the critical importance of sustained and vigilant security. For over a decade, our Community-Wide Security team has been dedicated to ensuring the safety of our schools, congregations, agency buildings and Jewish campuses. This team works in close collaboration with their peers in local and national law enforcement to help keep our children, seniors and families safe.
Thanks to our generous donors, in the 2018/19 calendar year we allocated roughly $850,000 towards our Community-Wide Security efforts. In 2019/2020, we hope to increase that to roughly $2,000,000. This funding provides for:
- a team of highly-experienced security officers deployed throughout the community
- ongoing trainings, evaluations and consultation with our Jewish organizations
- tools and technology to monitor and protect our facilities
- close coordination with security and law enforcement entities on a local and national level
- additional contract security personnel placed throughout the community
We also are pleased to announce a new $500,000 matching grant program for our Synagogues and Temples. This program will help enhance the physical protection of buildings and bolster on-site security personnel in our places of worship.
What You Can Do
Events like the most recent shooting in Poway, present numerous questions beyond securing our institutions. How do we explain such tragedies to our children? What public policy solutions are possible to push back against the rising anti-Semitism? Should we act any differently knowing that such hate-motivated violence is so real in our society? The list goes on. Here are some suggestions of ways to respond:
- If you see something, say something. Immediately report suspicious behavior to local law enforcement. Be aware of activities on social media and report concerns with guns, threats or other alarming activities.
- AJC is leading a campaign to urge all members of Congress to join the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism here. The rise of anti-Semitism is a serious issue and our legislators must remain vigilant. Locally, JCRC/AJC has helped secure the support of several members.
- ADL has a number of educational resources (below) for a range of uses both personally and in the classroom, as well as a blog on the situation in California:
- Empowering Young People in the Aftermath of Hate (for parents/families and educators)
- 5 Tips for Talking with Children about Hate Incidents (shortened version of Empowering Young People)
- Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories about Bias and Injustice (teaching tool)
- Gun Violence and Mass Shootings (Table Talk parents/families discussion guide)
- Anti-Semitic Incidents: Being an Ally, Advocate and Activist (lesson plan)
- Deadly Shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue (lesson plan)
- If you would like to find local resources for schools, please contact the Michigan ADL office at Michigan.adl.org
Maintaining Our Jewish Way of Life
Finally, we want to remind our community that there is no more important response to hatred and anti-Semitism than the simple act of maintaining our Jewish lives and traditions.
Our charge as Jewish communal organizations is to protect our most vulnerable members and provide for the security and well-being of all. We do this so that together we can continue to worship and celebrate, observe, learn and grow—as Jewish individuals and as a community united in the face of a complex and often frightening world, and with undiminished passion for our Jewish way of life.