The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey recently released an upgraded, standardized online form for the public to report threats, suspicious activity and incidents related to Jewish organizations and community members.
The upgrades were made to the online form through the Secure Community Network (SCN), the security organization for the Jewish Community in North America. This will continue to help as well as expand the resources offered to the community.
With antisemitic incidents reaching the highest levels ever recorded, the upgrade is timely. According to data released by the Anti-Defamation League, reported incidents last year rose by 10% in New Jersey, 408 total incidents. This is the third-highest number recorded in any state across the country. Those 408 incidents constitute 11% of the total number of antisemitic incidents recorded across the United States last year.
The organization has partnered with 40 other Federations and can be found on the Federation website at jewishheartnj.org/report and can be shared.
Amy Keller, director of Security Initiatives and External Affairs at the Federation, adds, “This updated form replaces the original form but can still be reached through the same web link. It is one of the many ways the Federation in the Heart of New Jersey continues to improve and expand on resources to protect the Jewish community.”
These changes enable other Federations, communities, and alliances to share critical information in real-time. The hope is that it will help get in front of the problem and prevent potentially catastrophic events from happening.
Coming forward and providing key information contributes to keeping our communities safe.
The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey Security Initiatives supports security needs at Jewish Institutions in Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties. This is captured through assessments and training, grant application and implementation, support and reporting resources, and incident intervention. When information is reported through the reporting form it is immediately sent to Federation security professionals and the 24-hour Duty Desk in SCN’s National Jewish Security Operations Command Center.
Something worth clarifying is the question of what exactly constitutes suspicion and what should be reported.
The short answer is any type of activity or circumstance that seems unusual should be reported. For example, a stranger loitering around a school or synagogue, or unattended packages left around a facility. It is important to remember that even if you think the observation is not critical, it could be a piece of a larger puzzle and may stop something from happening in the future.
Another essential piece of the reporting process is to know the “five Ws.”
“When it comes to details and how they are reported, remember ‘who, what, when, where and why,’” Keller said. “Knowing how to report suspicious or possible terrorist activities is key and arming yourself with this information can make all the difference in the world.”
Finally, if you are still not sure something should be reported, call the police and let them determine what response to take. Your responsibility is to help them by staying alert and being available should there be follow-up questions.
Gena Ansel-Lande is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.