What is CIJA doing to Strengthen Security for the Jewish Community?

A memo in response to a recent disturbing incident at the Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto (BAYT) Synagogue. Please share with appropriate community institutions.

The security of our community is paramount to CIJA, which is why CIJA has a national community security strategy and a comprehensive staff infrastructure, including a National Director of Community Security.

  • CIJA provides training, support, and resources to enable Jewish institutions to strengthen their security, especially shuls, day schools, and JCCs. We conduct, at no charge, comprehensive on-site security assessments of Jewish facilities across the country.
  • CIJA works closely with law enforcement across Canada to ensure they are aware of our community’s security needs and are taking all appropriate steps to protect Jewish sites.
  • CIJA lobbies government to enhance community security, not only through hate crime and anti-terror legislation but also via the Security Infrastructure Program (SIP), which provides institutions with funding to upgrade their security systems.
  • Lastly, CIJA connects with Jewish security and intelligence bodies around the world to keep apprised of threats to Jewish communities globally, and we in turn provide those organizations with updates on security issues in Canada.

We examine every incident closely and, working hand-in-hand with police, take appropriate actions. We have been deeply engaged in the response to the BAYT incident that took place last week. We have liaised with local police and are gratified that both York Regional Police and Toronto Police Services have been exceptional in their response, not only in investigating this incident but also in providing greater police visibility at Jewish sites across the GTA. In addition to working with the BAYT and local police, CIJA has alerted synagogues, schools, and JCCs throughout the GTA and relevant partners across Canada, ensuring they are aware of the incident and the need to re-examine and uphold their own security measures.

We encourage community institutions, after contacting police, to be in touch with CIJA immediately at security@cija.ca if they experience a disturbing event.

While Canada is generally safe, the Jewish community has always faced unique security challenges that require a balanced sense of vigilance. We need to enjoy our Jewish community facilities while taking simple, responsible measures that make a huge difference in enhancing security.

Two of the best ways to enhance security are entirely cost-free: to demonstrate awareness of unknown visitors and restrict physical access to the building. If you see something, say something. If you notice suspicious behaviour outside your synagogue or people who look out of place, alert security immediately. Make sure that doors that are supposed to be locked are indeed locked. Check security cameras to make sure they are operational. Meet regularly with staff and volunteers to reinforce protocols to be followed in the event of an emergency.

At the suggestion of police, CIJA will be gathering private security guards and volunteers working in Toronto Jewish community institutions for additional security training in advance of the High Holidays. This training will be conducted jointly with law enforcement. CIJA will provide resource materials while local police officers will train participants on how to react to situations and to report events properly so that police can respond with maximum efficiency. Synagogues are invited to contact CIJA directly if they would like to participate in this initiative. CIJA will also be sending an updated security package and guidelines for community institutions in advance of the High Holidays.

If you have any questions or would like assistance in enhancing the security of your community institution, please contact us at security@cija.ca.

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