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Anti-terrorism manual online

May 29, 20034 mins

* Jewish security manual could have broad application

I recently volunteered to help the House Committee at my synagogue by doing a security evaluation of the building where I celebrate the Sabbath every Saturday morning.

To avoid having to rewrite basic concepts of facilities security and emergency preparedness for the committee, I provided them with the superb manual called _Keeping Your Jewish Institution Safe – Online Edition_ from the Anti-Defamation League Web site. This document has to be one of the best-written short summaries of institutional emergency preparedness I’ve ever found.

As I reread it in preparation for my walkabout at the synagogue, it occurred to me that, like Jewish rye, kosher hot dogs and Yiddish expressions (Oy!), the work may be appreciated and used by non-Jews.

Available as an Acrobat PDF file from >, the 85-page pamphlet has the following structure:

1. Using This Manual

2. Introduction: Security Planning

3. Physical Security

4. Relationships with Emergency Personnel

5. Explosive Threat Response Planning: Bomb Threats, Mail Bombs, Truck Bombs, and Suspicious Objects

6. A Brief Look at Weapons of Mass Destruction

7. Armed Assaults and Suicide Bombers

8. Considerations for Schools and Summer Camps

9. Guidelines for Hiring a Security Contractor

10. Post-Incident Review

11. Security for the High Holidays and Other Special Events

12. Appendix: Bomb Threat Checklists

I am particularly pleased with the emphasis on planning. For example:

“Creating secure Jewish communal institutions must include the design of a security plan. A sound security plan will leave an institution better able to thwart and, if necessary, recover from, a security breach. Remember: the best way to protect your institution is to prepare for and prevent an incident’s occurrence in the first place.”

The writers correctly identify the need for risk management and corporate culture of security:

“Professionals and leadership should assess the risks and realities of the institution to develop a security plan, seeking professional guidance if necessary. Of course, not all institutions run the same risk, but all run some risk. Most critically, leaders must make sure that security is part of an institution’s culture… At the very least, input on security should be sought from all staff (not only is their ‘buy-in’ essential for a smoothly running plan, but they are also important ‘eyes and ears’). When planning or participating in events, everyone – ranging from the Board President to the custodial staff – must think security.”

Throughout the text, the authors insist they are not providing a recipe book but rather a set of guidelines that must be adapted to the particular needs of specific institutions. I think that readers of this column will find it a helpful document in writing their own overviews for management, and I hope you will take a look at it to see if you concur.

I will end, unusually, with a joke – one of my favorite jokes from shul (synagogue). A great flood was announced in a river town, and trucks with loudspeakers on the roof moved through the streets announcing that there were about 36 hours until a 15-foot rise in the water level. The townsfolk began sandbagging their foundations and nailing boards over their windows – all except Shmuel (Samuel), who sat idly by watching his neighbors with amusement. One said, “Shmuel, what gives? Why aren’t you getting ready to go?” Shmuel laughed and said, “Baruch Hashem (Blessed be the Lord), I don’t have to worry about floods. The Lord will save me.” So the next day, the water began to rise, and volunteers in boats came through the streets to help anyone stranded. They found Shmuel looking out of his second-floor windows and shouted, “We’ll save you! Come down this ladder!” Shmuel laughed and said, “Baruch Hashem, I don’t have to worry about floods. The Lord will save me.” Within a few more hours, the water was up to the second floor and Shmuel was on the roof. A helicopter flew overhead and the brave rescue team shouted down, “Take this rope ladder up and we’ll save you!” But Shmuel laughed again and said, “Baruch Hashem, I don’t have to worry about floods. The Lord will save me.”

He drowned.

When he met his Maker, he asked tearfully, “Adonai (God), how could you do this to me? I believed in you with all my heart!” And the Lord snapped, “Look, Shmuel, first I sent you the truck, then I sent you the boat, and finally I sent you the helicopter. What more could you want?”