On Saturday afternoon I was sitting at a pizza place on an island in the middle of Lake Champlain with some of my college friends, when my mother called and said: "Have you talked to your people?" I asked her why, and when she told me about the situation in Pittsburgh I had a visceral reaction to the fact that I was 900 miles away from Emanuel during such a profoundly heartbreaking moment for Jewish communities all over the world.
I stepped away from my friends and immediately started reaching out to various staff and board members to coordinate what I could from afar, but I also had faith that the systems we have put into place over the past two years would augment the sense of physical and spiritual safety we strive to maintain. Here are some of the safety improvements I have worked to achieve over the past two years, with guidance and support from our security team and Emanuel's building committee:
For the very first time, Emanuel has a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) based on best practice recommendations from both Federation and the Department of Homeland Security. This plan will be reviewed and updated on a yearly basis.
Recent safety upgrades performed in conjunction with a matching grant provided by JUF:
Improved security camera server
Shatter-deflective window filming
Security glass installed on all second floor classroom doors
These are just a few tasks that have been accomplished; feel free to contact me for more information on upcoming projects. I have also followed up with both Emanuel's in-house security team and CPD's 24th district to make sure we are doing all that we can to maintain a safe environment. Rabbi Marantz's response that was sent to the Emanuel community late on Saturday evening highlights the positive relationship we maintain with CPD. To that effect, if you have a moment to offer gratitude to our security staff, please do so. I know they appreciate it.
Synagogue professionals are the ones who plan, as best we can, for when bad things happen. We're constantly aware of what's going on in our buildings (and beyond) at any given time, and one of our myriad responsibilities is to make sure our colleagues and congregants are also prepared to the best of everyone's collective abilities. It gives me profound ruach- spiritual joy- to make sure that our congregation is a safe, welcoming, comfortable place for one and all, and I'm grateful to everyone who helps perpetuate our supportive atmosphere. Shavua Tov!