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From Rabbi Bender and President DeLoach

Last Saturday, when we heard the news of the hostage situation in Texas, our hearts dropped, and we were overcome with sadness. Thank God it ended well, but once again, we are reminded of the needs of the synagogue to protect the congregation. Immediately, we were given an update from the Security Subcommittee of the House Committee about what we have in place here at the synagogue to prevent such an event from occurring here.  We are truly impressed with everything already established and the amazing work this committee has done and continues to do to allow us to gather in safety and sanctity.

We currently maintain our facility in lockdown–all guests must be allowed access to our building through our monitoring systems. We have state-of-the-art video surveillance systems that feature internal views of the outside and inside of the synagogue. In addition, we have access control panels to the doors that can be operated remotely. Of course, we always strive for best practices and attend frequent training to stay on top of the newest safety procedures.

On Tuesday, there was a Zoom call that we along with several committee members attended about synagogue safety and the Texas event.  Merrick Garland (US Attorney General), and Christopher Wray (Director of FBI), were among those participating in the call. They made it clear that the FBI does indeed consider this a terror incident against the Jewish community. We were comforted knowing at how high a level the US Government is taking the threats against the Jewish people. The main points we took away from the call are as follows:

 

  1. We must all be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Many of the perpetrators are lone actors, making it hard to connect the dots in tracking them.
  2. We must build and maintain relationships with law enforcement agencies in New Hanover County. I was thankful to learn that the committee has done this.
  3. We must all be trained in what to do in an emergency situation. We are in the process now of arranging for more training and will reach back out soon with information as to when this will take place.

 

In the interim, we want to remain warm and welcoming but stay vigilant. To that end, we are making the following temporary policy changes:

 

  1. The Bnai Israel office is open from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Please contact Trish before visiting the synagogue, so we know to expect you. Trish should be informed of all meetings at the synagogue. No one that is not a congregant will have access to the shul without an appointment.
  2. Vendors will not let anyone into the building unless they are part of the vendor's crew.
  3. When visiting the building, do not open the door or hold the door for anyone you do not know. With this in mind, please be aware that an individual with malevolent intent may attempt to "piggyback" on your access to the synagogue. We will be relying on our members understanding their role and responsibility to preclude occurrences of this situation. In this situation, please back away from the Chestnut Street entrance and allow the unidentified individual(s) to use the access control features at this entrance to communicate their request for entry to the synagogue. 
  4. Exterior doors should never be propped open.
  5. Visitors are always welcome to worship with us for Shabbat services. We ask at this time that all visitors pre-register for Shabbat services during office hours. Please have visitors contact the office with your name, phone number, email, and date of the service they wish to attend.
  6. We will once again include diagrams in the sanctuary of the exits and address of the synagogue for quick reference for calling 911, God forbid. 
  7. We will reach out to the police department and ask for more drive-by checks on Friday night and Saturday mornings.

 

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions or ideas, and know that we are diligently working on this.

Shabbat Shalom,

Amy B. DeLoach, President

president@bnaiisraelilm.com 
910-617-1264 

 

Rabbi Chaya Bender

rabbi@bnaiisraelilm.com

910-547-7595

 

Mon, December 5 2022 11 Kislev 5783