2017-03-15 / Columns

Our community will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever

Federation President

My last column referenced what a great Super Sunday/Week our community had. Those efforts continued with a recent trip to Florida by Federation CEO Jen Weiss, Saltzman Executive Director Vicki Zell, JCF Executive Director Amy Milgrim, and myself to meet with and steward our donors who now live year round or winter in Florida and whom we didn’t reach during Super Sunday/ Week.

We were all in a program on the day of our trip, February 27, when we were notified of the threat phoned into the Katz Jewish Community Center (JCC). In the blink of an eye, the reality of what so many other JCCs and day schools across the country and in Canada have been facing these past weeks had suddenly become our reality too. Instantly, the staff implemented our evacuation plan and led the early childhood students, members in the building, and employees to safety.

In the following days, we heard story after story of our staff going above and beyond to make sure that the evacuation went smoothly. I’d like to acknowledge and thank our staff, our members, and all aspects of law enforcement for everything they did. We are truly all in this together.

In response to this threat, Federation commenced a special campaign to support the growing security needs of our Jewish community. Additionally, Senator Robert Menendez spoke to and informed over 500 attendees at the recent Middle East Institute event of his support individually and his efforts in the Senate to ensure that funds are allocated to this effort. The following day, at a press conference, Congressman Donald Norcross and Senator Cory Booker eloquently reinforced their individual support and their pledge to have government take an active role in fighting these threats. Once more, the same message was loud and clear—we are all in this together.

Federation is committed to not only being prepared, as we were after this recent threat, but to also being proactive in addressing our future needs and ensuring that our buildings and campuses remain safe. We are meeting regularly with the FBI and Homeland Security on enhancing our security procedures and exploring options with regard to modifying our physical structures to help ensure a safe environment. I would like to thank JCRC, the JCC, our entire family of agencies, and our synagogues in working together to ensure this happens—we are all in this together.

When I say, “We are all in this together,” I am so proud that this is not limited to the Jewish community. I personally received numerous telephone calls, texts, and emails from non-Jewish friends expressing their outrage and their support for our Jewish community and Jews throughout the country. It has been so incredibly encouraging that our Federation community has heard from so many Muslim and Christian groups who have expressed their support for us and who have decried these cowardly acts of anti- Semitism.

The Federation campus and the JCC reopened within two hours of the threat. What is clear is that we will not be intimidated and we will not remain silent in the face of these cowardly threats. Senator Menendez concluded in his remarks, “At times like this, we all stand as Jews.”

We are truly all in this together and will emerge stronger than ever.


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