On a governmental level, I’m writing to share our immediate responses to this alarming development in a neighboring state.
Councilwoman Elsie Foster-Dublin (head of the Public Safety Committee) and I consulted with our Police Chief Stephen Rizco about the steps we can take to bolster synagogue security in our town. As an immediate measure we have increased drive-bys at our synagogues at times when services are held.
We are scheduling a meeting between representatives of the NJ Department of Homeland Security, clergy members of faith communities in the area, church & synagogue administrators, and current church & synagogue presidents for this Tuesday (time and place to be shared with meeting invitees).
There is one other thing that each one of us can do. The federal government has recommended for the past decade or more; If you see something, say something. If you notice someone who appears out of place in your synagogue, an untended bookbag, or an unusual package received in the mail, tell your rabbi or a synagogue officer immediately (don’t wait until after services end).
If the person you inform cannot identify the suspicious person, bookbag, or package, have them contact the Highland Park Police Department immediately (call 911). Don’t delay and don’t worry that you are causing an undue alarm. You may be saving lives.
Wishing everyone a safe, secure, and healthy fall.