US Jewish institutions step up security after shooting

Jewish Council for Public Affairs - "learn the lesson from the Israelis and go about with your daily lives."

Jewish institutions in the US had increased their security even before Friday's attack on the Jewish Community Center in Seattle. After the shooting, the Secure Community Network - a new information network serving Jewish communities across the US, issued an alert advising its members to implement pre-arranged security plans. Ethan Felson, associate director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, who played a major role in creating the security network, said the message was to "learn the lesson from the Israelis and go about with your daily lives." There was no call to postpone or cancel planned events or to alter daily activities at community centers, synagogues or other Jewish institutions. "On the one hand, there is a need to be aware that we are living in a world in which terror exists," said Felson, "but on the other hand, there needs to be confidence that the Jewish community's institutions have taken the security matter seriously." Last week, the FBI issued an alert warning that Hizbullah might attack Jewish and Israeli targets in the US because of the fighting in Lebanon. This was the sign to make sure security measures were in place and for communities that hadn't completed their arrangements to take immediate action. In an alert to all Jewish communities Tuesday, the Secure Community Network said there was no specific intelligence concerning planned attacks on Jewish institutions, but called on the organizations to be "vigilant about security for all of our organizations and community during these events." Jewish activists were asked to report any suspicious activity to police. The issue of securing Jewish institution in the US was brought to the headlines in August 1999, when a white supremacist gunman wounded four people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, a Los Angeles suburb, and later killed a Filipino-American letter carrier. Since then, new security guidelines have been put in place at Jewish institutions across the nation.