In advance of the High Holidays, the Anti-Defamation League is reaching out to synagogues and Jewish community institutions across the Valley and country to provide information on security preparedness and to remind them to make security an everyday priority.

At a time when synagogues and institutions anticipate high attendance at services and events, it’s vital for all of them to increase their vigilance and review their security plan. All attendees should have a feeling of safety while participating in services during the High Holidays.

ADL has sent a list of security recommendations for the High Holidays to synagogues and other Jewish communal institutions. Among the recommendations:

  • Connect with local law enforcement to discuss security and advise them of holiday schedules and events.
  • Ensure that ushers understand that they play a critical role in security matters, as they are often used to control access to the sanctuary and are in a position to spot trouble early.
  • Establish procedures for controlling access to houses of worship and keeping access to a facility restricted to as few entry points as possible, so that all people accessing the facility are greeted and observed.
  • Ensure that existing safety devices are in good working condition.
  • Ensure that staff, leadership and constituents know their role in security and what to do in the event of an emergency.

While we are not aware of any specific, credible threat to Jewish institutions at this time, an uptick of activities this year associated with far-right extremist and other hate groups have been reported, including white supremacist leafleting, banners on highway overpasses and public rallies. Last year, ADL tracked 26 anti-Semitic incidents against individuals, as well as public and private communal institutions, across Arizona.

Additionally, ADL Arizona sent out letters to all school districts across the state with information on the upcoming Jewish holidays and encouraging them to make reasonable efforts to accommodate employees and students who wish to observe the holidays. JN

Carlos Galindo-Elvira is the ADL Arizona regional director.

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