For just over a year and a half, I have had the honor of serving as the first Jewish Community Regional Security Advisor for Southern and Western Connecticut, including the catchment area of United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.
Across America, we have witnessed alarming increases in mass attacks and crimes targeting our Jewish communities. In 2022, there were nearly 1,000 more antisemitic incidents reported in the United States than in 2021 according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In real numbers, the year-over-year increase represents a jump from 2,717 incidents to 3,697. This is the highest number of incidents recorded since the ADL began collecting data in 1979—and the third time a year-end record has been set in the last five years. Incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault—three major categories the ADL tracks—all also increased individually by more than 25%, with antisemitic vandalism incidents spiking a whopping 51% over the last year. Specific numbers for the State of Connecticut are even worse, with a total increase in the number of reported statewide incidents up over 100% in 2022 from the year prior.
These threats are very real, and Jewish communities in Southern and Western Connecticut, including the Greater Stamford area, are not immune. There is much more that we can and should do to prepare and help protect one another. That’s why it is imperative that we work together to identify threats, make our Jewish community facilities harder to target, and to prepare for and train to survive any attack.
In the Regional Security Advisor role, I administer a security program that provides consultations, organizational threat assessments, training and drills, and incident management to our Jewish community organizations, including schools, daycare centers, synagogues, and camps. I serve as a conduit between area Jewish community organizations, law enforcement, and the Secure Community Network’s 24-hour National Jewish Security Operations Command Center.
To reduce the risk of violence and terrorism to our community, I have been working closely with local law enforcement, as well as federal and state partners, to ensure that we are collaborating and sharing threat information.
During the first eighteen months of the regional security program, I conducted 55 formal facility security assessments and trained approximately 3,000 people in core security topics including Situational Awareness, Countering Active Th reats, Stop the Bleed®, and Camp Security. I have worked closely with community agencies on the Federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program, helping them receive nearly $3 million in federal grants in 2022, in order to improve their security infrastructure.
I have formed and convened regional security working groups comprised of community members who meet to discuss security topics and share concerns and best practices. In addition, we have built a one-stop online Jewish community security resource website at www.securejewishct.org.
This article was written by Michael Shanbrom (Regional Security Advisor) and appears in the July-August issue of The New Jewish Voice newspaper. To receive The New Jewish Voice delivered free to your home, sign-up today at www.ujf.org.