U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made an unscheduled appearance at a Secure Community Network (SCN) summit of leaders from the Jewish Federation and other Jewish organizations, held to discuss strategies for maintaining the safety of the Jewish community, on April 24-25 in New York. Napolitano praised the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and SCN, a JFNA affiliate, and emphasized the importance of a close relationship between her department and the Jewish community.
The first-ever Jewish Communal Security Summit came on the heels of the recent Boston Marathon bombings. Attendees and speakers included representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Department of Homeland Security’s counter-terrorism division, the New York Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other agencies and organizations. Topics discussed included Jewish school safety, synagogue and community center safety, and incidents of anti-Semitism. The conference then focused on successful security programs already in place as examples to learn from.
“Our goal is to be aware of the threats we face and gain knowledge that gives us the power to act in the face of these threats,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA, in his summit remarks. After incidents such as the Boston bombings, the Jewish community “will be held to account for how we apply the lessons we learn,” added Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“The message I tried to communicate over the past two days is that it’s not about security guards, gates and guns. It’s about creating resilient community organizations that can manage any form of disaster, man-made or natural,” said Jeffrey Slotnick, chief security officer for OR3M and an adviser to SCN.