High Holiday security: Be aware and prepared

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Trending News

Stephanie Peck
While many area synagogues hire off-duty police officers or sheriff’s deputies during High Holiday services, Michael Goldsmith, regional security advisor for Secure Community Network, emphasizes the role each congregant plays in recognizing and preventing a disturbance. As the High Holidays approach, Goldsmith suggests taking these precautions to help prepare for any unforeseen disruptions:

Maintain good situational awareness as you worship and celebrate. Pay attention to anything that seems out of place or odd while on the way to or from your destinations. Look for behaviors, situations, or vehicles that do not fit the usual pattern for the community at this time of the year.

Make certain a close contact knows your plans. Should there be an incident at a synagogue (or anywhere for that matter), having someone who knows where you are will assist First Responders in locating you and your family.

In synagogue, note the locations of exits, first aid kits, and Automated External Defibrillators. Many congregants do not attend synagogue on a regular basis, so they may not be as familiar with the facility as those who attend more frequently. Whether you are worshipping somewhere new or just haven’t been in the building for a while, look around for the exits, ushers, and medical equipment before fully engaging in the service.

Have a plan. Make sure you know what to do should an incident take place. Be ready to act and Commit to Action to save your life or the life of another.
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In advance of the High Holidays, Goldsmith shares the dates with area police departments so the departments can plan to increase patrols or practice random patrols to provide additional coverage to synagogues and their neighborhoods.
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Two training sessions: Countering Active Threat and Stop the Bleed, will take place on Sept. 13, and 14 at the Sandler Family Campus. For information and to register, visit JewishVA.org/SCN