US Jewish communities told to review security

While no specific threats cited, top government officials advise lay and professional leaders to check safety arrangements

Illustrative photo of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, New York. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, New York. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Top Department of Homeland Security officials advised Jewish communities to initiate or review security maintenance in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Some 300 Jewish agencies nationwide joined a conference call on Monday with Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary, and two other top officials organized by the Secure Community Network, the security outlet for the national Jewish community. SCN’s director, Paul Goldenberg, said the officials briefed 500 to 600 Jewish lay and professional leaders.

Goldenberg said Mayorkas and his aides did not report any specific threat in the United States, but advised the communities on security maintenance.

“If they have not developed security management plans, they need to get those plans,” Goldenberg told JTA. “We’re asking Jewish agencies to institutionalize security as a part of the culture.”

Goldenberg said that training organized by SCN, an arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, would incorporate findings from the November 13 attacks in Paris, where at least 130 people were killed.

Mayorkas explained how even when a primary target is not Jewish, the attackers may seek out Jewish targets in a secondary attack. He noted the attacks in Paris in January, where a satirical magazine that had mocked Islam was the first target; subsequently, attackers targeted a kosher supermarket.

Speakers on the call also reported findings from a recent trip to Israel organized by a number of federations that included police chiefs from those localities. Israeli officials briefed their US counterparts on how to prepare civilian institutions for a terrorist attack.

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