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Safe Shuls

State offers security seminar for local institutions

A pre-Rosh Hashanah “security briefing and security awareness program” sponsored by the office of Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness brought more than 70 representatives of area synagogues and Jewish organizations to the Passaic County Police Academy in Wayne last week.

The presentations stressed the importance of working with local law enforcement.

Detective Gil Breit, assistant counterterrorism coordinator for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, gave the keynote presentation. He focused on the need for Jewish institutions to work closely with public safety officials.

“The direct connection between Jewish institutions and law enforcement will decide whether or not we end up in tragedy or end up being prepared and safe,” said Jacob Toporek, summarizing the presentation afterward.

Toporek is executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, which cosponsored the program along with the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of New Jersey, and Chabad of Central New Jersey. The Synagogue Leadership Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey heavily promoted attendance at the program throughout our area.

Also sponsoring the event was the Security Community Network, devoted to “the institutionalizing of a culture of security awareness and preparedness into the consciousness and operations of the American Jewish community.”

The presentation from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office dealt with signs of threats and what to look for, said Toporek.

He said that homeland security is not aware of any specific threats going into the High Holy Days season.

“The lesson to be learned from all of these security trainings is that you have to be vigilant and be prepared. You have to be ready for that time when rumor becomes reality,” he said.

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