Keeping Jewish Cleveland Safe

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This week, we had one of the most important discussions that your Federation can have – one that is sadly still needed to have. This week, we met with 6th to 8th graders at Gross Schechter Day School to discuss all that we are doing to help keep them safe.

This assembly was not in response to a known threat to the school or to our community. As we assured the students, based on all the information that is available, there is no reason for any of us to feel unsafe. There are no indications of any known threat to Jewish Cleveland.

That said, we know how disturbing times like these are. From the shootings this week in the Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles to the recent terrorist attacks in Israel to the shooting that took place on the campus of Michigan State to the Jewish teenagers who had a gun pointed at them outside of a local kosher establishment, we are being bombarded with news of violence and tragedy every day.

Therefore, we thought it was also important to share with you what we are doing to help keep Jewish Cleveland safe and welcoming to all.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland has been on the leading edge of communal security in North America. This year, your Federation is investing more than $5 million to fund local security initiatives.

Launched in 2013, our security provider – JFC Security, LLC – provides safety and security coverage to over 60 synagogues, nine early childhood programs, 10 Jewish day school locations, and many social service organizations in the Greater Cleveland Jewish community.

JFC Security now employs more than 50 highly trained and seasoned professionals, including former FBI agents, a SWAT team commander, explosive ordnance specialist, crisis negotiators, and seven former police chiefs to help protect, monitor, and patrol the community. This team works closely and in ongoing partnership with local and national law enforcement – including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security – to prevent hate from finding a home in Northeast Ohio.

As we told the students, there are ways you can help too:

  1. Most importantly, if you see something, say something. Report suspicious behavior to local law enforcement immediately. Law enforcement would rather rule something out than have to respond after the fact. So be aware – including on social media and report concerns with guns, threats, or other alarming activities.
  2. Get safety training. JFC Security has provided training to over 1,500 community members through a wide range of security educational programs, including: active shooter, usher/greeter training, situational awareness, and more. We have seen time and again how safety training saves lives.

Yes, it’s horrible that we still have to have to talk about keeping our community safe. But it is important to remember that caring for one another – especially those most vulnerable – is at the core of who we are as a community and as a people. We will not be discouraged or intimidated, and together we will continue to confront hatred and antisemitism with our indomitable passion for our unique heritage, culture, and community.

I wish you and your family a peaceful Shabbat this week and invite you to help us commemorate the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine by lighting a special third candle on February 24th.

Shabbat Shalom,

Daniel N. Zelman
Board Chair

Erika B. Rudin-Luria

P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling to manage stress and anxiety, please contact Access Jewish Cleveland at 216-292-4636. We are here for you.

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