Aug 28, 2011
[A letter to RCA members]:
We are all properly concerned about the safety of our various Jewish institutions and those who visit them with whatever frequency might be the case. We need not remind you of the various very troubling news reports relating to Jewish institutions being targets or potential targets of a variety of threats and attacks.
As rabbinic leaders we need to be proactive in addressing such safety issues in our local setting. This is especially the case if our lay leader counterparts need to be encouraged to take necessary security steps.
To help address these concerns, the Rabbinical Council of America is pleased to announce that we are partnering with the Community Security Service (CSS). CSS is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that works with synagogues, schools and the organized Jewish community to train community members to protect their institutions.
CSS has a proven track record of helping Jewish synagogue and other Jewish organizations improve their security. It has been hailed by community leaders and law enforcement for its professionalism and effectiveness. CSS offers a number of solutions, including training, awareness seminars, and emergency procedure review. Moreover, it does so on a volunteer basis (i.e. at no charge to the community). While many security solutions are expensive or ineffective, CSS offers an option that has proven both to be cost-conscious and effective in protecting Jewish communities worldwide.
By the very nature of effective synagogue security, certain halachic issues arise in the context of Shabbat and Yom Tov. We are pleased to report that we have consulted with our Av Bes Din, HaRav Gedaliah Dov Schwartz, and he has endorsed the work of CSS in writing as it relates to Shabbat and Yom Tov. We have secured similar endorsement by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in light of Israeli experience and security precautions put in place there. Of course, individual RCA chaverim may wish to consult their own poskim in these matters.
As a practical matter, CSS will be providing its services on a region-by-region basis, starting with the Metropolitan New York area and in due course similar letters will be sent to the rest of the RCA membership. The next step is up to you: we urge and encourage you to contact CSS at (917) 720-5583. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please explore with them how they can be of assistance to you and your synagogue or other institution. They will be happy to work with you to the best of their ability.
With the Yamim Nora'im quickly approaching, we urge you to contact CSS as soon as possible to ensure your kehillah is appropriately protected.
With best regards for a Summer and Fall filled with safety and security,