Give me your tired, your poor Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
So wrote Emma Lazarus, her words enshrined on the base of the Statue of Liberty. All immigrants, especially we Jews, thought that by coming to America we could escape poverty, gain opportunity, but most of all, leave behind the violence and the massacres which dogged our lives daily. We now find ourselves in a situation unthinkable when our grandparents first came here in the early 1900’s. Our enemies, capable of reaching across the world, (9-11) are saying, give me those Jews in America, we will kill them, we will rape the women and most assuredly we will slaughter their children.
As a Board Member of the O.U. and as one who is known to be interested in the safety of the Jewish Community I was invited to a security meeting in which the Guest Speaker was former Homeland Security Commissioner, Janet Napolitano. Her remarks were a wake-up call to action to the Jewish Community. She stated that 94% of all Homeland Security Funds went to Jewish Institutions, applied mostly to synagogues. She informed us however, the startling fact, that “the chatter” that the US government had picked up recently was that the terrorists were focused on and preparing to attack Jewish schools, particularly in America. She suggested that the Jewish Community use whatever resources were available to protect those institutions. Shortly after that meeting, I arranged a gathering on December 20, 2012, of all of the 5 Towns Yeshivas. I explained the situation as presented and encouraged every school to get busy securing their institutions. Invited at that gathering were experts in security planning and execution available to help any school prepared to ready itself against attack, to the best of its ability. Some schools responded and took this extremely important offer to heart, others did nothing. In attendance at that meeting were principals, teachers and other administrators. There were no parents, no school presidents, no members of anyBoard of Education. That was a big mistake. To date not enough has been done. And ennui has settled in.
We are in a crisis mode. Our best defense is preparation. The following suggestions made by experts should be taken to heart and followed;
Every school must have a safety committee.
Every school must have a review made of the interior and exterior of its building.
Purchasing paraphernalia such as inside school room door locks and other equipment must be made.
There are many other suggestions that should be followed with regards to Target Hardening.
All teachers, administrators and children should practice lock downs on a regular basis.
All should be taught how to respond to terrorist invasions of schools.
As a reminder, all schools should be up to date on their fire drill practices.
This Jewish Community like others of its kind is interested in steeping its youngsters with Torah knowledge. In the case of more modern yeshivots a strong secular education is also required which presumes the acceptance of students into a good college and then professional school. This seemingly safe transition from one educational venue to another can no longer be assured. The threat of terrorism hovers over our shuls and schools and D.B.S. (Divestment Boycott Sanctions) demonstrations on college campuses are a reality.
Our children will be and are now growing up in a world that overtly threatens their very existence. Our schools and families must make room in their budgets for financial resources dedicated to ensuring the security of all of our children. While government to a certain extent can help – we are really out there on our own.
Luckily for us a group of young men, each successful in his own profession, have come together to form an organization consisting of security professionals willing and able to train members of our community on how to be vigilant and on how to thwart unwanted invasion, and in general preparing us for almost certain harm that will be attempted.
There is much to learn and much to do. Please call the 5 Towns Jewish Times @ 516-569-0502 for any information or guidance you need. I will get back to you as soon as I can and respond to your requests.
If you are a parent or grand-parent with a child in one of our schools, find out how prepared your educational institution of choice is. Last week Israel sent out a global terror alert for Jews in every country. Our love and concern must motivate action.
Submitted by Rebbitzen Susan Alter-Klaperman