Shuls Training Safety Officers Following Hostage Crisis

Following the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel Temple in Colleyville, Texas, Jewish communities are implementing necessary safety measures to protect their congregants from future attacks.

Following the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel Temple in Colleyville, Texas, many Jewish communities are implementing safety measures to protect their congregants from future attacks.

After his daring escape, the Temple’s rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told reporters he threw a chair at Malik Faisal Akram, distracting him enough to allow himself and the other hostages to flee. He credited active-shooter training for helping him save his congregants.

Upon hearing of the hostage crisis, Concerned Citizens League (CCL) President Chiam Naiditch said he was concerned but not surprised. “Unfortunately, antisemitism is on the rise in our country and across the world. The Synagogue is a very visible sign, and so it’s a target,” said Naiditch. “We’re grateful to the federal and local authorities who resolved the terrible situation in Colleyville, and we’re doing our best to be sure it doesn’t come to that in Synagogues in our own region.”

Naiditch says he founded the organization to empower the Jewish community to protect their shuls and communities through training, education, and support. The group provides credible threat and incident information to its members through its official intelligence channel and serves as the community’s formal liaison with local and state law enforcement.

CCL has developed training programs that enhance the security of Jewish communities and institutions. It undertakes threat and vulnerability assessments, provides community training and education, and offers consultation on safety and security matters to Shuls and Jewish institutions throughout the Chicagoland area. It also provides a Shul Safety Officers Program. Formally vetted and trained Shul Safety Officers (SSOs) receive 64 hours a year of training in Stop The Bleed, CPR/AED, de-escalation, safety, security, and self-defense. Members also undergo extra security training from top experts in the country and around the world.

“Just this week, our SSOs are receiving an additional two-day training from Masada Tactical, LLC, in preparation for exactly these kinds of events,” said Naiditch. The two-day course in Israeli Active Shooter Response is being given by former Israeli Reconnaissance and American SWAT officer “BK” Blankchtein, who founded Masada Tactical in 2011. Training was planned well in advance, but Naiditch said it couldn’t be more timely.

Avraham Hershkovich, Vice President of CCL and administrator of one of Chicago’s largest religious boys schools, agreed. “Antisemitism doesn’t go away,” said Hershkovitch “But can you imagine if every Shul in America had a dedicated community member, connected with local law enforcement and ready to respond? We’re working here in Chicago to make sure that our Shuls are prepared.”

For information contact Chaim Naiditch, Pres. 312-667-8500, [email protected]

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