communal protection

Expanding partnerships, Jewish security groups sign agreement with N.Y. Board of Rabbis

Under the memorandum of understanding, the Community Security Service and Community Security Initiative will hold regular meetings with NYBR, track threats and organize training sessions

The New York Board of Rabbis, an interdenominational umbrella group, signed a memorandum of understanding with the national Community Security Service and the city-focused Community Security Initiative on Wednesday to improve communication between the rabbis’ congregations and the organizations.

This partnership comes as CSS looks to expand its connections with other Jewish groups. Earlier this month, the security organization signed a similar MOU with the Orthodox Union. It is in talks with the Reform and Conservative movements as well.

“Today, we are living in a new era of antisemitism and threat environment, which behooves us to do everything possible to forge real interorganizational connections that have a direct impact on our safety outcomes,” Evan R. Bernstein, national director and CEO of CSS, said in a statement. “Each of our organizations holds a unique responsibility under the security umbrella, and by linking up with the New York Board of Rabbis, we are able to reach even more communities and help lower the vulnerability we see firsthand.”

As part of the agreement, the leadership of CSS, CSI and NYBR agreed to hold quarterly meetings. CSS will also create customized training programs for NYBR clergy and leaders. In addition, CSI will assist in tracking threats to NYBR-affiliated communities and assessing their physical security arrangements.

CSS and CSI have had an official partnership since 2020 when they signed an agreement to share intelligence, coordinate efforts and conduct joint training exercises.

“The continued combining of our respective resources and prowess on Jewish communal security allows us to tangibly enhance our safety, particularly now as institutions grapple with a concerning volume of targeted incidents,” Mitchell D. Silber, executive director of CSI, said in a statement. “Antisemitism – and how this age-old hatred afflicts us – remains top of mind for every American Jewish institution. The establishment of such a partnership allows us to keep improving our security.”

Last week, CSI, which is also looking to expand its partnerships, provided patrol vehicles to four Hasidic civilian patrol groups, known as Shomrim, in Brooklyn.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of NYBR, said in a statement that the MOU showed “that hate mongers will not stop us from being proud Jews, but bring us even closer to one another.”

New York City has seen a marked rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League recorded a 39% rise in antisemitic events overall — vandalism, harassment and assaults — from 2021 to 2022 and a 41% jump in assaults specifically.