Beth Am has always been on the cutting edge of innovating congregational best practices, whether it’s engaging volunteer leaders, reimagining our programs or working in creative partnership with our clergy and staff. We’re committed to doing the same when it comes to security.
Since the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue last October, the Beth Am Security Working Group (SWG) has been hard at work assessing our situation, consulting with experts, and developing plans and actions to provide greater safety for Beth Am’s members and guests. In the recent progress report emailed to the congregation, the SWG outlined what they’ve been working to improve safety and security at Beth Am. This includes contracting with an excellent new security company that provides well-trained, professional security personnel (all off-duty or retired police officers) at times when many people are present on campus.
Despite the security landscape looking different from a year ago, the core belief that guides Beth Am’s security practices has not changed: to be welcoming and secure at the same time. What does the Torah say about both of these things?
To be welcoming: Rabbi Firestone, a professor at HUC-JIR, points out that the mitzvah of caring for the stranger is mentioned more times than any other mitzvah in the Torah — even more than the command to love God (v'ahavta). We’ll continue to offer a friendly welcome to newcomers who visit Beth Am seeking a comfortable spiritual home. At the same time, we remain mindful of the Jewish imperative of pikuach nefesh, the duty to protect life, which supersedes all other Jewish obligations.
In working towards this balanced vision, our congregational leadership recently requested an additional donation of $100 per household to cover security needs. So far, Beth Am has received enough funds to cover the majority of expenses for the security personnel this year. If you have questions or comments regarding Beth Am security, please email email@example.com.