Message from Steve Wendell, Executive Director, UJCVP

This weekend brought another terrible tragedy – the shooting attack on the Poway Chabad congregation in the San Diego Jewish community.

Federations across the country are taking varying approaches to bring their communities together. Some are weaving relevant messaging into their community Yom HaShoah commemorations; some Federations are organizing vigils in partnership with Chabad, while others are participating in multi-faith community events. Here on the Peninsula, we will include a message of hope in our annual Yom HaShoah Remembrance program tomorrow evening, Wednesday, May 1 at 7:00 PM, at the UJC.

Michael Masters, Director of Federation’s Secure Community Network, arrived in the San Diego area Saturday evening. In the San Diego area Jewish community, the lead agency on community relations and security is the local office of the ADL and the lead agency regarding trauma support is Jewish Family Service. In that context, the local Jewish Federation is working to support efforts to coordinate activities.

The Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation have opened a fund to meet the immediate physical, psychological and spiritual needs of the victims and others impacted. Here is the link to donate: www.jewishinsandiego.org/donate.Trauma.

The increasing pace of attacks on Jewish institutions and others is creating a very challenging environment for us all. In the wake of the Pittsburgh attack, SCN created a multi-year plan to scale up their infrastructure and resources to support Federations and major national partners who coordinate networks of our key institutions (schools, JCCs, synagogues, camps etc.).  Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and SCN leadership are working to develop a funding approach to drive this plan forward, respecting the reality that the first call on community funds is their own local security preparedness and emergency response capacity.

On the Peninsula, the UJCVP is working with all our synagogues, including those on our Campus and Temple Sinai and Temple Beth El, to assist in evaluating security needs for our institutions and seek funding support to help meet those security needs. Anyone wishing to financially assist our local Jewish institutions with security is encouraged to contact their synagogue or the UJCVP. From major metropolitan areas, to inner city, Jewish neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill, to the small Jewish community of Poway, the security needs of our institutions and our membership is a main priority.

As we have in the past, including our “Stop the Bleed” training held this past Sunday, the UJCVP will continue to work with our Federation security partner, SCN, and our local police to bring the most current information and training available to our local community. On our UJC Campus, with the help of a Federal FEMA Homeland Security Grant and UJC reserve operating dollars, currently and over the past year, we have been upgrading our JCC and Sarfan Early Childhood Center facilities to meet the latest security recommendations. In addition, with the assistance of SCN and our Newport News Police, staff training in security preparation and emergency response has become part of our routine.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions: swendell@ujcvp.org