Jewish group gets security training
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Jewish group gets security training

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From left are Paul Goldenberg, national director, National Secure Community Network; Charles McKenna, director of the N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; Jacob Toporek, executive director of the N.J. State Association of Jewish Federations; Ruth Cole, its president; Mark Levenson, its president-elect; and Leonard Cole, director of the program on terror medicine and security of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. NJSAJF

The Secure Community Network, the non-profit homeland security initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, hosted an executive security conference June 14 for senior Jewish leaders in this state.

Paul Goldenberg, national director of SCN, who opened the conference at the East Brunswick Jewish Center, said that the “event highlights the strong partnership between the governor’s office, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the leadership of our Jewish communities in New Jersey.” He added, “The importance of public-private partnerships, particularly as it relates to homeland security efforts cannot be overstated.”

Co-sponsors were the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, the Anti-Defamation League, the Orthodox Union, and Agudath Israel.

Nearly 100 community delegates, law enforcement officers, and security experts attended.

The NJSAJF “is a prime sponsor and coordinating agent for this statewide security training program because it is important to our community safety,” said its president, Ruth Cole of Ridgewood,

“The Jewish community remains highly vulnerable to terrorist threats and, therefore, it is vital that we remain vigilant, prepared, and well-trained and that our community security communications network is well integrated from the initial receipt of alerts to rapid response deployment,” Cole said.

Morning briefings by officials from the U.S Department of Homeland Security and the Anti-Defamation League were followed by training to strengthen preparedness and assessment strategies for Jewish communal institutions, including federations, day schools, synagogues, JCCs, and other organizations.

Josh Pruzansky, N.J. regional director of public policy for the Institute for Public Affairs of the Orthodox Union, said that “synagogues and day schools have become the front line against terror and the staff of these institutions are our last line of defense…. [T]o provide practical training and guidance to them in how to react in an emergency is, unfortunately, critical. We are grateful to New Jersey’s leadership for recognizing this need and partnering with the Jewish community to meet it, especially Governor Christie, the lieutenant governor, and Director [Charles] McKenna” of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

McKenna, the keynote speaker, said, “We will all be safer if people say something when they see something.” He added that his agency “has been at the forefront in reporting suspicious activity through the Counter Terrorism Watch, its 24 hour-tip line.”

The convenors advise that suspicious activity should be reported by phone to 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ (1-866-472-3365), fax (609) 530-3650 or by e-mail to tips@njhomelandsecurity.gov.

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