Greater Miami Jewish Federation Forges Partnership With CSS to Expand Security at Synagogues Across Miami-Dade County
New York, NY – To enhance the safety of Jewish institutions across Miami-Dade County, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and Community Security Service (CSS) have announced a partnership enabling Jewish congregations to play a more active role in their security through organized volunteer-driven programs and training opportunities.
The partnership comes at a time of rising antisemitism and extremism, with Jewish houses of worship remaining targets for acts of violence, vandalism and hate crimes. The ADL, a CSS partner, recently released a report, Hate in the Sunshine State – Extremism and Antisemitism in Florida 2020-2022, which shows that hate crimes have continued to rise in the state of Florida over the past several years. In particular, hate crimes against Jews accounted for 80 percent of religiously motivated incidents in 2020.
Over the past two years, CSS has undertaken several steps to improve the security of Jewish institutions across the US. Its trainings engage volunteers from local synagogues to partner with private security firms and local law enforcement to teach situational awareness and best security practices, adding another layer to the synagogues’ security plans.
“Although we have made significant progress in building awareness around the critical need for volunteer security across the country, the American Jewish community is still playing catch-up to its counterparts across the globe when it comes to grassroots efforts and responsibility,” said Evan R. Bernstein, National Director and CEO of CSS. “Given the climate we face where we are witnessing an increase in attacks against synagogues and Jewish institutions, establishing real and thorough partnerships centered around the notion that security is everyone’s responsibility is one of the most tangible ways to improve our safety outcomes. Therefore, we are tremendously excited to provide a mechanism – at no cost – for members of the Miami Jewish community to be empowered and involved in safeguarding their synagogues and events.”
Recently, CSS hired Hannah Iberkleid as its Southern States Director to focus on the growing number of CSS-affiliated institutions in Miami-Dade County. Iberkleid will work closely with Federation’s Director of the Office of Community Security (OCS), James Somohano, to oversee the collaboration, coordination and implementation of programs. OCS guides the security posture of Jewish agencies and organizations throughout the county. Hannah previously served as an intelligence analyst in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. She also worked for a variety of Jewish organizations.
This new Federation-CSS partnership will now include the delivery of multi-level security training programs for synagogues, institutions and events. Additionally, the two entities will maintain regular lines of communication and information-sharing regarding security-related issues as they arise.
“Federation believes volunteer-driven security is a force-multiplier in a world that requires hypervigilance amid the threat landscape to the Jewish community,” said Jacob Solomon, Federation President and CEO. “While we have devoted a significant amount of resources to make us safer in recent years, we understood that the volunteer security model is an additional component and a critical layer to how we safeguard our institutions.”
Since 2016, Federation’s OCS has worked closely with synagogues, day schools and other organizations across Miami-Dade County in a comprehensive effort to ensure the protection of the community. Today, it works with 160 Jewish institutions and programs and is the primary agency that liaises directly with local law enforcement.
About the Community Security Service (CSS):
CSS is the leading Jewish volunteer security organization in the United States. Founded in 2007, CSS was the first organization to bring to the United States a mindset long held by sister communities around the world that protecting Jewish life and the Jewish way of life starts with taking ownership of our security. CSS is focused on training volunteers in basic security procedures to help protect their institutions and events across the country. Volunteers learn to identify suspicious activity and prevent and respond to potentially threatening situations through programs developed by foremost industry security experts and tailored to various levels of interest and ability. Since its inception, CSS has created a national network of thousands of trained volunteers who help to protect synagogues and events nationwide. Visit thecss.org.
About Greater Miami Jewish Federation:
For 85 years, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation has been a unifying force for Jewish community-building and philanthropy. It enriches the quality of Jewish life in Miami-Dade County by bringing comfort and hope to the vulnerable and investing in programs that build Jewish knowledge, identity and peoplehood — ensuring the next generation of Jews. The Mission of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is to mobilize human and financial resources to care for those in need, strengthen Jewish life and advance the unity, values and shared purpose of the Jewish people in Miami, in Israel and around the world. Visit JewishMiami.org.