November Security Committee Update

We have two upcoming Congregational meetings where security will be discussed, and we wanted to explain the difference between the two meetings.

November 11th Special Security Meeting
On November 11th from 10:00 a.m. to noon, we will be having a security symposium in the sanctuary with three expert guests.  The purpose of the symposium is to provide our membership with information followed by an extensive question and answer period.  The three expert presentations will each be about 12 minutes in length to be followed by approximately an hour and a half in which you are encouraged to ask questions about any synagogue-related security topic on your mind.  During the meeting, attendees should be able to gather the information they will need to feel knowledgeable with respect to the security question that will be voted on at our Annual Meeting on December 9th at 10:00 a.m.

Our guest speakers are: Captain Ricardo Urena, head of the nearby Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office
Seth Brysk, the Regional Director of the ADL
A Special Agent with the FBI’s Hate Crime Unit

All three speakers have been asked to share best security practices for religious institutions, recognizing the need to be open and welcoming on the one hand, and safe and secure on the other.  They will also be sharing non-classified information about hate groups and hate crime occurrences/trends within a radius of 100 miles from us.  They will not be telling us specifically what we should do.  That is up to us to decide, and you will have time to think about what you hear at this meeting and bring those thoughts and ideas to the annual meeting on December 9th.

December 9th Annual Meeting  – Security Topic
Security will be one of the topics discussed at the Annual Meeting so that  the Board can understand the Congregation’s security preferences. If you have come to the November 11th meeting you will already know about the “outside world”, expert opinions about risks we face, and have a good context in which to consider Congregation Beth David’s situation.

After receiving feedback from past Dvar articles, the Board has decided to simplify things and boil it down to one security question to be voted on, though there will be time to discuss various ways it could be implemented. The basic question for the vote: Do we maintain the status quo or always lock our door?

As currently proposed, whenever the door is locked and there is a scheduled public program or service, we will provide a way for members who don’t want to use their card key (for halachic reasons on Shabbat, for example) to enter the building. Depending on the number of people expected, we would use either trained guards or existing staff to assist with the door for various events. Rather than force the Congregation to choose every detail of how we implement this policy in the meeting, we would expect to pilot different solutions over the next year until we find what works for our Congregation and collect your feedback along the way. For example, we already use a friendly, welcoming, trained guard on the High Holidays. We could add similar guards for Shabbat morning and Religious School hours, both of which draw a larger number of people into our building. As another example, a weeknight minyan, where we typically have a smaller group and it’s not a holiday, we might rely on building maintenance staff or a doorbell to gain assistance entering if you have forgotten your key card.

We will have to experiment with different approaches until we find the right blend of welcoming and secure behavior that works for our community. No Jewish person will be expected to use a card key during a time when it might pose a halachic problem for them. Please note that already today, our door is locked when there are no public events scheduled and use of a card key or a door bell for entry has been required for the last two years.

So after the Board hears from the Congregation, it will work with the security committee and staff to implement any changes needed. We hope you can attend both meetings!

This article was published in the November issue of D’var Download PDF 


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