The Jewish Community Board of Akron has long been committed to the safety and security needs at the Schultz Campus for Jewish Life which is home of the Shaw JCC of Akron, The Lippman School, Jewish Family Service of Akron, Schultz Towers and Beth El Congregation. In recent years, significant upgrades to security measures have been made to the Campus achieved through grant funding from the state of Ohio, and time and effort have been made to develop security protocols.
Recent synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, as well as violent attacks against other religious institutions, have demonstrated the importance of working together as the Akron Jewish community – including Temple Israel and Anshe Sfard Revere Road Synagogue – to develop a crisis communications plan, assess risks and address physical vulnerabilities, share knowledge and resources and implement a long-term security strategy we hope that we will never have to use.
“It is essential our community is able to continue to grow and prosper while ensuring that we are safe and aligned in our responses to crisis. Security has been and always will be a priority for the JCBA, but in the face of an increased number of tragic and hateful events, we must redouble our efforts on behalf of our entire Jewish community,” said Todd Polikoff, JCBA CEO.
Since February, the JCBA has convened community leaders to address communication protocols, and this group subsequently engaged The Impact Group, a local public relations agency and recognized industry expert in crisis communications strategy, to develop a training and communications plan that will unite the messaging and crisis response plans of our Jewish communal organizations in the Akron area.
By the end of July, the Impact Group will provide an actionable plan as well as guidance on how the separate organizations will stay connected and respond promptly and effectively when communication efforts are needed. Additionally, the collaboration will include stakeholder engagement, in-person training in crisis communications response, and community education initiatives.
The JCBA continues to work closely with the Secure Community Network (SCN), a nonprofit entity funded by the Jewish Federations of North America whose purpose is to focus on safety training, security advice and intelligence sharing in the Jewish community.
The SCN coordinates with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as local law enforcement agencies to protect the Jewish community and is staffed by former members of the U.S. intelligence community. Their training efforts have been credited with the saving of lives in the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. When an attack does occur, SCN is on Community Security from page one the ground to help that particular Jewish community respond and recover.
A state-of-the-art emergency notification and communication system (SCNAlert) has been acquired and will be implemented in the coming months, as Akron Jewish communications groups are established.
“Through JCBA’s partnerships with The Impact Group and SCN, we will work together to initiate security protocols that raise awareness for our shared values and strengthen the safeguards in our community,” said Polikoff. “The JCBA will be further updating everyone in the coming weeks and months.”
Monies raised through JCBA’s Annual Campaign go toward funding the Akron Jewish community’s crisis communications plan and SCN. The JCBA Board of Trustees recently voted to approve a $25,000 allocation to fund a comprehensive security assessment for the community.