The Colleyville Synagogue Hostage Crisis: How to Move Forward

Following the horrifying hostage situation this past Shabbat at a Colleyville, TX, synagogue, we are grateful that all four hostages made it out safely, and thankful for law enforcement, first responders, and the security training that the Jewish Federation network and partners provided to the community. This attack is part of a troubling and unacceptable trend of attacks on Jewish houses of worship and individuals who are visibly Jewish, incidents of vandalism, and online hate with implicit threats that can incite such attacks.

In Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties -- backed by your financial support -- Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey's Security Initiatives have worked with local, state, and Federal law enforcement, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Secure Community Network (SCN), communal partners, our Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), and Security Task Force to address the mounting need to make Jewish gathering places more secure.

Federation supports the Jewish community in assessing and addressing security needs; often working behind the scenes with law enforcement and interfaith allies on incident reporting, investigation, and prevention; advocating with lawmakers and empowering organizations to optimize public resources; and more.  

  • Helping Jewish organizations:

    • conduct security assessments and build relationships with local law enforcement

    • navigate the landscape of obtaining and implementing security grants

  • Bringing over $8 milion in funding for security improvements to synagogues, Jewish schools and cultural centers
  • Facilitating access to security training for nearly 300 heart of NJ communal leaders and countless comunity members annually
  • Launching a community-wide shared emergency alert system for communal leaders
  • Advocating with state and Federal elected leaders to make permanent and increase funding for nonprofit security grant programs
  • Conducting commuity briefings on the current face of antisemitic threats
  • Increasing awareness of and access to incident reporting channels, and more.

Thank you for helping make this possible. 

Now, we must ALL do two things: 

  1. Call on your Congressperson to double funding for FEMA's Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) enabling Jewish and other institutions targeted by hate, violence, and threats to better protect their communities. Mobilize Congress
  2. Donate today to Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey to continue expanding community funding, training, and advocacy needed to make Jewish gathering places more secure. Give Now

Your Federation donations enable the Jewish community to continue investing in security while caring for those who are vulnerable and fostering a strong and joyful Jewish community today and for generations ot come.  

Your continued vigilance, your voice, and your financial support of Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ are critical to our work locally and as part of the JFNA and SCN network to make the security of our community a top priority. 

Thank you.

Federation parent organization, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), issued a statement, How we Move Forward After the Coleyville Synagogue Hostage Crisis. In part, it said: 

Like everyone, we are deeply relieved by the outcome of the hostage taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, near Dallas. We thank all the law enforcement officials who saved the lives of our brethren, and we express to Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, the other hostages, and all of his congregants, our love and support as they deal with this trauma.

Of course, we wish incidents like this could be prevented completely, but we know that the presence of our Dallas Federation’s Community Security Initiative and the Secure Community Network (SCN), both before the incident and during, made a real and important difference. We appreciate that the FBI thanked and acknowledged the Jewish Federation and SCN at their press briefing immediately after the successful conclusion of the incident, and pledged to work with us throughout the country on the safety of Jewish communities. Rabbi Cytron-Walker also expressed his support of the security training he received in his touching thank you message.

As you know, Jewish Federations across North America have taken responsibility for developing and implementing comprehensive security plans for their communities. Today, approximately fifty of the 146 Federations have such programs. The Jewish Federations also created SCN to provide expertise and support to these efforts, and to work directly with law enforcement agencies, especially the United States Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. 

To further support these efforts, Federations worked with the United States Congress to develop and grow the Federal Nonprofit Security Grant program, which provides financial support for the physical security costs incurred by faith-based institutions, including cameras, reinforced doors, and the like. Finally, Federations and SCN work with ADL to share threat information and the Community Security Service (CSS) to provide expertise on volunteer security training. 

These efforts all form a single, integrated strategy with local Federations as the front line supported by expert assistance, communications, information, training and financial resources provided by our Federation system as a whole. It is critical that we build out this strategy to cover every community, and strengthen and enhance the programs that already exist.
Our Jewish Federation system was built to provide leadership on challenges for which the only path forward is coordinated, collective action. Security is certainly one such challenge. We will not hesitate and we will not fail. 
Thank you for your support. 



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