Safety and Security Steps for the Whole Year

Rabbi Paul Drazen –


We think about safety and security a great deal at High Holiday time.  But kehillot have responsibility for the safety and security of members throughout the year.  With that in mind, USCJ offers these questions for leadership to ask while reviewing year-round safety and security plans.  Each kehilla should have a person or team to be in charge of security.  The first two steps in designing a safety-security plan are:

1. Meet on site with and have regular conversations with law enforcement for the area.

2. Meet on site with risk adjustors from your insurance company.

Ask the experts for ideas to make your facility safer and more secure.  Get contact information to make it easier to reach the right people in case of emergency.  Write a safety plan, review it with employees and lay leaders, have practice drills and exercises.  Review the plan to be sure it is understandable and useable.

Use this link for further security information: - and this link to listen to our security webinar from SCN in August, 2012: :

Some questions for review in safety and security planning:

Access Control

  • What areas, inside [aron kodesh] and outside [school entrance] require special access control or special consideration?
    • What is the proper balance of allowing members and visitors access while safeguarding people and property?  Are there specific plans for weekdays? For Shabbat and holidays?
  • Does the traffic pattern direct cars and delivery trucks to assure safety for people and property?
  • How are vehicles kept away from entrances or areas where people tend to congregate?
  • How are illegally or unexpected parked vehicles monitored. Can they be removed if need be?
  • Can doors and windows be locked? Are entryways and delivery doors adequately monitored? Do doors have entrance- open signals, intrusion detection systems or alarms as appropriate?
  • Have office staff been trained to recognize suspicious mail, packages or deliveries? Do they know what to do if one arrives?
  • Are dumpsters or other trash containers placed and monitored to prevent hiding of explosives or other hazardous materials?

Monitoring, Surveillance, Inspection

  • Is the facility monitoring / surveillance system easy to use yet able to enhance security?
  • Can sensitive areas be monitored even in case of power outage or during a critical emergency?
  • Are all people entering and leaving the facility monitored? Is staff trained to detect suspicious behavior, especially of unannounced visitors?

Cyber Security

  • Is there a security plan for computers, hardware, network architecture and software?
  • Is the kehilla’s web site welcoming yet designed to ensure that no sensitive information is provided?


  • Is there a need for perimeter barriers (e.g., fences, berms, concrete walls) around the facility?
  • Is landscaping designed to establish a clear zone, free of vegetation and other obstructions, which allows continuous monitoring of entries and windows?
  • Is there a need for barriers to protect doors and windows from small arms fire or blasts?
  • Can HVAC systems be modified to prevent the introduction of chemical, biological, or radiological agents into the building?

Communication and Notification

  • Is there an announcement system capable of notifying everyone in the facility (employees, security personnel, members, students and visitors) simultaneously?  
  • Is there a notification protocol specifying who should be contacted in emergencies (lay and staff) both inside and off-site?

Incident Response

  • Is staff assigned to ensure someone familiar with the emergency plan is available at all times?
  • Are emergency response equipment [A.E.D’s] and supplies [oxygen, wheelchairs] checked regularly?
  • Are designated emergency entry and exit points marked? Do staff members know where they are?
  • Are designated emergency exits clear of stored items and unlocked as appropriate?
  • Are employees familiar with procedures for shutting off utility services (e.g., electricity, natural gas) in emergency situations?
  • Do you review the safety plan with all employees at least every six months?
To download this information as a PDF, please click here.

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