A confidential security briefing hosted by the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County on March 1 at the Monmouth County Fire Academy in Freehold involved two firsts: It offered the first tabletop simulation exercise the Secure Community Network has conducted in the state, and was the first time an SCN exercise brought together a mixed group of faith-based organizations and public safety officials.
Among the 50 participants were employees of local synagogues and Jewish communal organizations and law enforcement officials from Monmouth County and its municipalities.
The tabletop exercises — designed to evaluate and improve the community’s ability to respond to crises — were developed and delivered by the SCN, a homeland security initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Among those in attendance were Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden; Paul Goldenberg, SCN national director; Dave Leonardis, NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; and Michael Oppegaard, Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management. An overview of security principles was conducted by SCN senior adviser Doron Horowitz, who, as director of national security infrastructure for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, is responsible for the coordinated security initiative for Canada’s Jewish communities.
Monmouth federation’s security committee — Marc Belfer, Kobi Shafrir, Lou Krupkin, and Harvey Straus — were instrumental in planning the program. Federation president Joe Hollander in his welcoming remarks said that collaboration “is clearly the strategy for federation to help make our community as strong as it can be.”
Keith Krivitzky, Monmouth federation executive director, said, “We are focused on building our community’s capacity to create a safe and secure environment. Creating a robust prevention and response plan for all Jewish institutions is an essential ingredient to our long-term safety.”
The gathering, said Ruth Queen, treasurer of Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, “was beyond informative and I have already contacted my rabbi, temple president, and the executive vice president with ideas from the program.” Grace Toy of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in Freehold said the session provided “very informative training that we hope to implement.”
Just days prior to the event, Goldenberg was at the White House for “Taking Action: Creating Model Emergency Management Plans for Schools, Institutions of Higher Education, and Houses of Worship,” which included more than 100 leaders from the faith, education, law enforcement, emergency management, and mental health communities, as well as survivors of gun violence.