Workshop Trains Leaders to Develop and Improve Emergency Operations Plans


Forty lay leaders, clergy, and other professionals from 20 houses of worship representing many faiths gathered at Rutgers Hillel, Dec. 6, for an Emergency Operations Planning Workshop organized by Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey and co-presented with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP).

The workshop emphasized an all-hazards approach encompassing planning for security incidents plus a wide range of other emergencies. FEMA’s Race A. Hodges, faith-based capacity building specialist, walked the group through how to develop and improve emergency operations plans. Attendees and trainers shared lessons learned from real-life experience.

“Jewish Federation’s Security Initiatives enable houses of worship to continually improve awareness and preparedness for emergencies – whether from violence, cyber threats, or natural disaster,” said Susan Antman, Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ Executive Director.

“During an incident, when things can be chaotic, is not the time to identify roles, responsibilities, and actions,” added Amy Keller, Federation’s Director of Security Initiatives. “This workshop helps organizations move emergency planning off their “to-do-as-soon-as-possible” list and make it happen now.”

Barbara L Bascom, Security Committee Chair at Temple Beth Miriam of Elberon, said, “This Workshop came at the right time. We looked at the task of creating a plan as a major hurdle. We gathered ‘too much’ information from online sources, which made the task more intimidating. Then we received the invitation to Federation’s workshop. Now, I am sure we are ready for the job.”

Keller explained Governor Murphy recently signed legislation requiring places of worship capable of seating more than 500 people to prepare and maintain emergency operations plans in coordination with local fire, law enforcement, and emergency response agencies.

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To find out about future sessions, contact



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