Jewish Atlanta Ups Security After Pittsburgh
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Jewish Atlanta Ups Security After Pittsburgh

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh killings, in addition to the vigils and memorials, there were private conversations at synagogues, schools and other institutions about security.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Cathal Lucy, director of Community-Wide Security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, addresses security measures at Jewish sites.
Cathal Lucy, director of Community-Wide Security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, addresses security measures at Jewish sites.

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh killings, in addition to the vigils and memorial services, there were more private conversations at synagogues, schools and other institutions in the Jewish community.

The topic was security, in recent years an increasing concern for those who manage the buildings where Jews congregate.

When you ask what measures this or that institution takes and what they will be increasing, this response is not unexpected: We are doing what we believe is prudent, but we’re not discussing it publicly.

“I really don’t want to divulge security protocols,” Cathal Lucy, the 25-year Secret Service veteran who is director of community-wide security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, said in the days following Pittsburgh. “We’ve got good security measures in place that have been established for some time. Our biggest thing is making sure people are aware of that, understanding that action plans are live documents, that they change daily based upon situations that occur.”

Scott Allen, the executive director of Congregation Or Hadash, was asked at the time whether Jewish Atlantans need to live more like Israelis, who encounter a greater degree of security in their daily lives. “I would hope not, but certainly the events in Pittsburgh on Saturday are a wake-up call,” especially for those who think “I can’t afford it; it’s never going to happen to me. You can come up with all the excuses you want in the world – until it happens,” he said.

Post-Pittsburgh, the most noticeable measure of security at synagogues was the increased presence of police. Lucy has stressed the need for Jewish institutions to have good relations with their local police – before there is an emergency.

Less obvious are upgrades in communication and surveillance systems, and programs to train personnel how to respond.

“It’s important that to be effective, it needs to be concealed. If everyone were to go out and talk about their security efforts and what they’re doing, that would be, in and of itself, insecure,’ said Shelly Dresdner, the associate executive director of Temple Sinai. 

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