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1/25/2024

CSS, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Partner to Expand Security, Enhance Safety of Synagogues Across National Capital Region

CSS, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Partner to Expand Security, Enhance Safety of Synagogues Across National Capital Region

CSS CEO Richard Priem: “The Community Security Service's mission is focused on providing practical training and security skills to Jewish community members to protect their own institutions and events. We look forward to expanding our footprint in the DMV.” 

Washington, D.C., January 25, 2024 – To enhance the safety of Jewish institutions across the national capital region, the Community Security Service (CSS) and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington have announced a partnership enabling Jewish congregations to play a more active role in their security through organized programs and training opportunities for volunteers.

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 partner of both CSS and the Federation, recently reported an unprecedented rise in antisemitic incidents following the October 7 attacks in Israel, marking a 337 percent increase to the same period in the previous year, including in the national capital region.

Collaboration between the Federation and CSS will consist of the delivery of multi-level security training programs for synagogues, institutions and events. Additionally, the two entities will maintain regular lines of communication and instill an information-sharing system regarding security-related issues as they arise.

“The Community Security Service's mission is focused on providing practical training and security skills to Jewish community members to protect their own institutions and events,” said Richard Priem, CEO of the CSS. “This partnership will help bring our expert resources to synagogues and organizations in the Greater Washington region – equipping those who know their communities best – to add an additional layer of security in partnership with law enforcement and the Federation. This is an especially important collaboration against the reality of recent surges in antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish communities, including in the DMV.”

Over the past three years, CSS has undertaken several steps to improve the security of Jewish institutions across the United States. Its trainings engage community members and volunteers from local Jewish institutions to partner with private security firms and local law enforcement to gain situational awareness and implement security practices, adding another layer to the synagogues’ security plans. CSS already maintains a network of hundreds of volunteers at a dozen of Jewish institutions in the DMV. Through this partnership with the Federation’s own security program, it expects to grow these numbers significantly over the next few years.

“The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Security initiative has a primary objective to instill a culture of security within the Jewish community, and increasing our resilience with the understanding that each of us has a role to play in our community’s safety and security,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of the Federation. “CSS and its model of volunteer training focused on enhancing the security of their own institutions is exactly aligned with that philosophy.”

CSS operations in the region will be led by Charles Berkowitz, CSS’ Senior Director for Northeastern States and a former United States Army Ranger and detective in the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau, who will focus on the growing number of CSS-affiliated institutions in the Greater Washington region. Charles will work closely with Rusty Rosenthal, Executive Director of Community Security at the Federation, which guides the security posture of Jewish agencies and organizations throughout the D.C. and the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

The Federation’s community security office works closely with synagogues, day schools and other organizations in a comprehensive effort to ensure the protection and safety of the community.

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