November 28, 2018
Posted by: Jessica Sterling, East Bay Program Assistant
How many measures of security will it take for a community to feel safe and secure?
Last Shabbat I arrived at Temple Beth Abraham’s Saturday morning services early. As a board member I volunteer to be “Shabbat Greeter” about once a month. The greeters are the first people a congregant or guest meets at our synagogue, the first contact anyone has when they enter. Having greeters is a security measure.
We’ve always made security a high priority, and after the mass shooting in Pittsburgh on October 27 a new greeter position was added in the foyer, at the front entrance. This past Shabbat I held this new ‘point’ position and was given a panic button to wear. Throughout the morning I was aware of the panic button. It had a weight to it, both a physical weight and the weight of responsibility.
Two out-of-town guests entered the foyer wearing kippot and, when I welcome them, they mentioned that they’d come to say Kaddish the night before but couldn’t find where services were held. I explained that Friday night services are in our Chapel, which is smaller and, due to security measures, can only be accessed through a locked gate. There are many more security measures besides the ones I’ve described and new security updates are shared with the congregation regularly. Congregant safety is an ongoing topic of discussion at board meetings. We’ve even seen our local police officers joining the congregation for kiddush lunches this past month; they park on the street in front of the synagogue.
But we cannot live our lives in constant fear of unstable, hateful people. Nor should we accept an anti-Semitic attack as inevitable. There are proactive actions that we can take, beyond simply adding security, that help ensure a secure environment and appreciative neighbors.
That’s why I applaud JCRC, our Jewish Federations, and the ADL, who act as resources building goodwill and strong external relations with other community groups. I am also grateful for the support of the interfaith councils and broader faith-community, and I feel blessed to be a member of a strong community in general.
We aim to keep our Jewish community safe without burdensome security measures. Let us work to fill the world with love and compassion so that there is no room left for hate.