The recent weeks have been filled with activity by the Beth Am Board and Program Team in the wake of the tragic events at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh. While security has been a top priority for Beth Am the past few years, we moved quickly to enhance security measures around Shabbat and other events and to accelerate work that was already underway to improve campus safety following our successful application for a security infrastructure grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This work will continue with added focus from a Board-led Security Working Group that we have launched. While the need for these measures is regrettable, the steps we have taken are essential – as is the need for continued vigilance.
The outpouring of support for Beth Am in particular and the Jewish people in general also reminds us that we derive tremendous strength from the bridges we have built to those outside of our congregation. The presence of so many faith leaders at the Beth Am gathering our clergy organized the day after the shooting is testament to the power that comes from being an open community – welcoming all who want to worship with us or work with us to build a more just world.
Our challenge going forward is to strive to maintain the right balance between these two pillars of security – to take the steps necessary to protect our campus without shutting out our allies and friends in the larger community. Increased security may be the “new reality,” but we won’t let a fortress mentality become the “new normal.” As always, your feedback and support are welcome in this effort. Please contact me with your comments questions or comments.