NATIONAL AND LOCAL JEWISH SECURITY GROUPS CSS, CSI FORGE PARTNERSHIP WITH THE N.Y. BOARD OF RABBIS
Organizations pledge increased collaboration and communication amid a “new era of antisemitism”
New York, NY, September 20, 2023 … Two leading security organizations with distinct roles in the protection of the Jewish community in the New York metropolitan area – the Community Security Service (CSS) and the Community Security Initiative (CSI) – announced today the formalization of a partnership with The New York Board of Rabbis (NYBR), the world’s largest rabbinic inter-denominational body, in an effort to increase communication and collaboration around securing institutions.
The three entities officially formalized a new partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the American Jewish community is experiencing historic levels of antisemitism and an increased threat environment. As the Jewish community gathers for the High Holiday season, all three organizations have consistently heard sentiments of vulnerability firsthand from their respective constituents.
CSS, the leading Jewish volunteer security organization in the United States, and CSI, a combined program of the UJA-Federation of New York (UJA), and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) with a mandate to enhance physical security for Jewish institutions, have pledged to make all of their respective programs and services available free of charge to institutions and constituents affiliated with NYBR in the New York metropolitan area and across the country.
“Today, we are living in a new era of antisemitism and threat environment, which behooves us to do everything possible to forge real interorganizational connections that have a direct impact on our safety outcomes,” said Evan R. Bernstein, National Director and CEO of CSS. “Each of our organizations holds a unique responsibility under the security umbrella, and by linking up with the New York Board of Rabbis, we are able to reach even more communities and help lower the vulnerability we see firsthand.”
CSS, CSI and NYBR have agreed to set up quarterly meetings with their leadership to identify opportunities to strengthen collaboration, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the collaboration remains robust.
“Some years ago, the rabbi of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, following the murderous attack on congregants, asked, ‘When we said “Never Again” after the Holocaust, did we put a question mark or exclamation mark after it?’ Standing together as one people is the best response to antisemitism for we show that hate mongers will not stop us from being proud Jews, but bring us even closer to one another,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of NYBR, “We sign this memorandum as living testimony.”
The partnership will also entail CSS allocating its expertise and resources by customizing its existing training programs to best meet the specific needs of NYBR’s network of clergy and leaders. CSI will also offer its expertise and resources by assisting in the tracking of threats to the community in the New York metropolitan area, responding to antisemitic incidents, and providing physical security assessments.
“The continued combining of our respective resources and prowess on Jewish communal security allows us to tangibly enhance our safety, particularly now as institutions grapple with a concerning volume of targeted incidents,” said Mitchell D. Silber, executive director of CSI and former senior N.Y.P.D. counterterrorism official. “Antisemitism – and how this age-old hatred afflicts us – remains top of mind for every American Jewish institution. The establishment of such a partnership allows us to keep improving our security.”
The MOU builds on an existing operational partnership between CSS and CSI, created in September 2020, that has been synchronizing field operations, coordinating deployments of volunteers, sharing intelligence, and conducting both joint training and joint tabletop exercises.
The Community Security Service is the leading Jewish volunteer security organization in the United States with offices in New York, Stamford, Miami and Los Angeles. Founded in 2007, CSS was the first organization to bring to the United States a mindset long held by Jewish communities around the world that Jews must be empowered to protect themselves. CSS is focused on training volunteer teams in basic security procedures to help protect their institutions and events across the country. Through programs developed by foremost industry security experts, and tailored to various levels of interest and ability, volunteers learn to identify suspicious activity and prevent and respond to potential threatening situations. To date, CSS has created a national network of over 2500 active trained volunteers, which help to protect hundreds of synagogues and events each year. Visit thecss.org.
The Community Security Initiative is a comprehensive program created as part of UJA-Federation of New York (UJA) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s (JCRC-NY) plan to protect the Jewish communities and institutions of New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland counties, CSI is the leading security entity in the New York metropolitan area responsible for enhancing physical security at Jewish institutions by establishing a baseline security profile on each facility’s current security status, ensuring connectivity with law enforcement, providing timely assistance in conducting assessments to enable federal and state security grant applications, and overseeing emergency communications security systems. Visit csiny.org.
For more than 138 years, The New York Board of Rabbis has shaped the future of Jewish life in New York, educated rabbis and the public, and responded to the changing needs of Jewish communities. NYBR is a private, nonprofit organization with more than 750 members, which makes it the largest rabbinic inter-denominational body in the world. Visit nybr.org.