New York, NY, September 20, 2023 -- Two leading security organizations with distinct roles in the protection of the Jewish community in the New York metropolitan area – the Community Security Service (CSS) and the Community Security Initiative (CSI) – announced today the formalization of a partnership with The New York Board of Rabbis (NYBR), the world’s largest rabbinic inter-denominational body, in an effort to increase communication and collaboration around securing institutions.
The three entities officially formalized a new partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the American Jewish community is experiencing historic levels of antisemitism and an increased threat environment. As the Jewish community gathers for the High Holiday season, all three organizations have consistently heard sentiments of vulnerability firsthand from their respective constituents.CSS, the leading Jewish volunteer security organization in the United States, and CSI, a combined program of the UJA-Federation of New York (UJA), and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) with a mandate to enhance physical security for Jewish institutions, have pledged to make all of their respective programs and services available free of charge to institutions and constituents affiliated with NYBR in the New York metropolitan area and across the country.
“Today, we are living in a new era of antisemitism and threat environment, which behooves us to do everything possible to forge real interorganizational connections that have a direct impact on our safety outcomes,” said Evan R. Bernstein, National Director and CEO of CSS. “Each of our organizations holds a unique responsibility under the security umbrella, and by linking up with the New York Board of Rabbis, we are able to reach even more communities and help lower the vulnerability we see firsthand.”
CSS, CSI and NYBR have agreed to set up quarterly meetings with their leadership to identify opportunities to strengthen collaboration, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the collaboration remains robust.
“Some years ago, the rabbi of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, following the murderous attack on congregants, asked, ‘When we said “Never Again” after the Holocaust, did we put a question mark or exclamation mark after it?’ Standing together as one people is the best response to antisemitism for we show that hate mongers will not stop us from being proud Jews, but bring us even closer to one another,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of NYBR. “We sign this memorandum as living testimony.”
The partnership will also entail CSS allocating its expertise and resources by customizing its existing training programs to best meet the specific needs of NYBR’s network of clergy and leaders. CSI will also offer its expertise and resources by assisting in the tracking of threats to the community in the New York metropolitan area, responding to antisemitic incidents, and providing physical security assessments.“The continued combining of our respective resources and prowess on Jewish communal security allows us to tangibly enhance our safety, particularly now as institutions grapple with a concerning volume of targeted incidents,” said Mitchell D. Silber, executive director of CSI and former senior N.Y.P.D. counterterrorism official. “Antisemitism – and how this age-old hatred afflicts us – remains top of mind for every American Jewish institution. The establishment of such a partnership allows us to keep improving our security.”
The MOU builds on an existing operational partnership between CSS and CSI, created in September 2020, that has been synchronizing field operations, coordinating deployments of volunteers, sharing intelligence, and conducting both joint training and joint tabletop exercises.