There are many lessons--sobering and uplifting--to be drawn from Jan. 15th's horrifying hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Among the most important, evidenced by how the hostages knew exactly when, where, and how to escape, is security training for Jewish institutions and individuals.
We are unfortunately in a new era of Jewish security realities characterized by more threats and more attacks against us and, correspondingly, JUF receiving hundreds more requests for security assistance from the full roster of Jewish community groups.
That is why we have launched, as part of a national Federation initiative, "JUF Live Secure Chicago." Our vision is secure Chicago Jewish communal life, where no one is deterred from participating because of fear. The aspirational goal is that security decisions will be based NOT on financial considerations but objective security and programmatic considerations. To achieve that, JUF seeks to provide as many security resources as necessary to every Chicago Jewish group.
This expanded work will include:
1. More frequent JUF surveys of macro community security needs.
2. More security audits and trainings conducted for more individual groups.
3. Grant writing services for Jewish groups to access governmental and private funding.
4. Leadership of the 40- member (and growing) Safeguard Illinois Communities Coalition advocating in Springfield to fund - at $8 million - the Illinois Non-profit Security Grant Program
5. Expanding JUF Master Contract program for more security products/services.
6. Upgrading software inter-connectivity between JUF security and other facilities.
7. A permanent pool of JUF security grant funding on 3-5-year cycles.
8. Separate emergency funding pool for extended guard services amidst acute, specific threats.
9. Deepening connections with all levels of law enforcement, including bi-annual missions to Israel.
10. Expanding the monitoring of social media and dark web threats to buildings and events.
11. Growing local groups' partnerships with the national Security Community Network (SCN).
For decades, JUF has done much to enhance communal security: We have assisted 100 Jewish groups to receive $26 million in government grants. Separately JUF funded a matching grant program that leverage a total of almost $4 million for 88 local groups that serve 37,000 people. In partnership with 24 federal, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, we have conducted 250 security audits and facilitated over 50 security plans for groups and facilities and held many dozens of security seminars. We have sponsored four educational seminars for law enforcement leaders to Israel.
All that is good. But, given our new security realities, not sufficient.
That is why "Live Secure Chicago" is so necessary, and one of JUF's highest priorities. And it is why we have launched a multi-dimensional fundraising plan involving our 2022 Annual Campaign, endowment gifts and other supplemental giving opportunities to address our immediate and, sadly, permanent security needs.
Guiding us in this unprecedented security initiative is our new Director of Security, Daniel Godsel, a former Chicago Police Department Commander and Deputy Chief. (Look to the next issue of
Jewish Chicago: The JUF Magazine
for more on Daniel.)
In the months to come, we will be sharing additional information in
and other JUF outlets on both the programmatic and fundraising pieces of "Live Secure Chicago."