Shep Englander — Strategic Initiatives
Rising Up to Security Challenges: The Scoop in May
We opened last week’s JFC Annual Meeting with a powerful video showing all the ways we “Rise Up” together as a community, both locally and globally.
In the last year, we rose up by creating connections with Israel among Jewish young adults through Honeymoon Israel. We rose up by helping Batya, and many others, find meaningful work through our funding of JVS Career Services. We rose up by facilitating the capital campaign for the brand new Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center. And we rose up against antisemitism by hosting an all-day conference called Driving Out Darkness.
Unfortunately this past year, we have had to rise up to meet serious security challenges threatening our community.
When I walked out of the eleventh funeral in Pittsburgh last October, I knew our world had changed. The attacks at the Tree of Life Synagogue and at the Chabad of Poway are sobering reminders of the threats facing Jewish communities everywhere. Pittsburgh was the first time in 350 years that Jews were murdered in a synagogue. Sadly, it took just six months to happen again.
Although the attacks did not happen in our community, they affected us. We helped Zahava Rendler, a local Holocaust survivor, tell her story. Her son is a member of the Chabad of Poway and was on his way to the synagogue when the shooting occurred. She left us with a powerful message to be upstanders—and to take action against these acts of hate.
We have made and continue to make security a top priority, assessing and re-examining the measures we are taking here in Cincinnati.
Six years ago, Cincinnati was one of America’s first Jewish communities to launch a community-wide security program—SAFE Cincinnati. Since launching SAFE Cincinnati, funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, we have been able to:
- Implement more than $3 million in security upgrades and improvements at more than 35 facilities (e.g. cameras, alarms, access control systems, fences, protective window film, protective landscaping, etc.).
- Assist several of our local Jewish facilities to obtain more than $715,000 worth of federal, state, and local security grants.
- Provide security guard coverage for Shabbat services and weekly religious schools. (Cincinnati is one of only a few Jewish communities nationwide in which there is such funding available to congregations.)
- And most recently, launch our own threat-monitoring program to track events, trends, and social media to identify potential security issues, and share them with law enforcement. (Cincinnati is the second Jewish community in the nation to establish a forward-leaning intelligence program.)
All this work would not be possible without your generous support. At the Annual Meeting, we announced that together we raised more than $12 million in the last year through the Annual Campaign, supplemental gifts, and endowment gifts.
That fuels the life-changing work we do as an organization. Those funds are carefully allocated to make sure your gift is used wisely and with the greatest impact. To learn where your money goes, visit our website.
One final thought. I was inspired this week by the work of our Women’s Philanthropy group. More than 100 women and their kids shopped for and packaged birthdays-in-a-box for the Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry. This mitzvah helps ensure everyone in our community can have a special birthday celebration, and it plants the seeds of helping others among our youngest community members—two beautiful things.
Thank you for caring about our community and what we do.
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