Houses of Worship Are Vulnerable Research Paper

Download this Research Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Research Paper:

On March 20, 1994, two Skinheads shot several rounds from a high-powered semi-automatic rifle into the stained glass windows of a Eugene, Oregon, synagogue. The shooters were sentenced to terms of 54 and 57 months imprisonment. (The Skinhead International: The United States)

At least in some ways keeping synagogues (and other institutions) safe from neo-Nazi attacks is easier than keeping them safe from Muslim terrorists. While nearly all Muslims are good people, neo-Nazis are, by definition bad people. They are easier to identify and keeping surveillance on them does not have the same civil rights problems that keeping track of those who affiliate with gangs or other violent groups.

Not all threats to synagogues are violent, of course. Synagogues, like other houses of worship -- and other buildings of course -- are subject to theft and other forms of non-violent "assault" like tagging. While these are serious, they are less so (obviously) than violent attacks and so should take lower priority. Moreover, in working to protect a synagogue against violent attacks one is also working to protect against lower-level attacks.

Working Hand in Hand

As noted above, the best way to ensure the security of any building is for its inhabitants or users to work closely together with first-responders. Those who use a building are aware of the routines of the place -- for example, when it will be empty. On the other hand, they may be relatively unaware of the ways in which they may be vulnerable to attack. Blending the knowledge of users of the rhythms of their building with the knowledge of security risks and security measures that first responders have is an excellent way to make a plan that will provide the greatest level of security possible.

Those who use a building, like a synagogue, that may be subject to attack, should be as aware of their surroundings as possible. The rabbis below may be taking things a little farther than most would in terms of trying to protect themselves, but the basic idea is a good one. So long as one stays away from vigilantism, it can be very empowering for people to work to provide security for themselves.

Fearing jihadists will attack synagogues during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a group of badass rabbis has developed a program to turn your average shul-goer into a lean, mean fighting machine.

The group, which calls itself the International Security Coalition of Clergy, was founded by Rabbi Gary Moscowitz, who boasts a black belt in karate, teaches martial arts and was an NYPD cop for nine years.

He's teaching others basic and advanced fighting moves -- how to take down a terrorist by the neck, how to use a table as cover from gunfire and how to execute a nifty running somersault while drawing a gun -- that he says can be used by Jews if they're attacked by terrorists during prayer.

"We have to be our first responders," Moscowitz told the Post in the video below. "The reason why we have to be our first responders is because even if the police were trained properly by the time they show up we'll all be dead. Even if they show up in three minutes, which is great timing here, a guy with a machine gun could kill everyone." (Hawkins)

Letting professionals -- whether police and other first-responders or private security firm personnel -- do their job is important since they have the experience, expertise, and weaponry needed to do so.

This is why it is imperative for synagogue members to convey any possible threat to police as soon as possible and to ask for extra protection during any time when members might be especially vulnerable. Such times of vulnerability are the High Holidays, but they might also include big parties such as those held for a wedding or a bas mitzvah. While the police will be aware of when the holidays are (although they might have to be reminded of the dates), they will not in general be aware of large gatherings at the synagogue on other days unless they are informed by the members.

Internal conditions such as congregation-specific events can raise the risk for those attending a synagogue, but other events may be keyed to events beyond the local community. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes that part of keeping a synagogue safe requires that members be attuned to what is happening in the world at large. Keeping an ear to international news can be important since extremists in the community might be "inspired" by international events.

Congregation members can make it a regular practice to check in with their local police as well as the regional office of the ADL to determine if there is any information about possible local risks. Risk assessment by synagogue officials and members must also include an assessment of members and programs that might provoke an attack. For example, if a member of the synagogue writes a blog in which he says things that could be interpreted as anti-Muslim, then this action might prompt someone to attack the synagogue. Likewise, if the rabbi and other synagogue members are working with local Muslim leaders to create authentic dialogue, this might also provoke anger in extremists and so would be a red flag for synagogue leaders that extra security might be required.

One of the questions that synagogue leaders must consider is how widely they want to "advertise" the presence of a synagogue. Should there be a large sign welcoming new members and the community at large? Should the nature of the building be kept as tacit as possible? This is a decision that extends far beyond the practical because it calls into question the type of institution that the synagogue wants to be, how welcoming it wishes to be to the community in general. The degree to which the synagogue wants to make its self felt in the community does not necessarily stay at a constant level and may have to be changed over time as the community and the neighborhood changes. For example, if a family planning clinic were to move onto the same block, it would be likely to attract extremists, which might in turn threaten the synagogue.

While it is not reasonable to expect civilians to protect themselves on their own, synagogue users should be aware of the ways in which it might be possible to protect themselves in the time before first-responders to appear. Safety is based in no small measure on the ability to predict potential risks and so planning ahead for possible dangers is an important step that members of the synagogue can take. Police are generally very willing to work with members of the community to help learn how to keep themselves as safe as possible. Among the basic but important plans that the members of this synagogue can take are to have an established evacuation plan and a site for people to meet afterwards to ensure that everyone is out of the building and safe. This seems elemental, but it can be lifesaving. And -- of course -- it is an excellent plan to have in any case, such as the need to evacuate in case of a fire.

Establishing a safe evacuation route is a relatively easy measure to take because it does not deeply affect the congregations sense of self. An evacuation plan seems innocuous -- like the fire drills of elementary school. But other, more seemingly invasive measures must also be put into place, such as training ushers (or others who help organize each service) to recognize suspicious behavior. Simply watching out for people who are unknown to the congregation can be extremely helpful, although again this vigilance must be balanced against putting up barriers to those who have a legitimate reason to be entering the synagogue.

"You don't want iron gates and armed guards, but houses of worship do need to train staff, congregants and ushers to identify and respond to such threats as an emotionally disturbed person," said Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network (SCN), a Jewish security organization [and] & #8230; innovative leader in securing Jewish houses of worship through public-private partnerships.

The group receives sensitive information on threats to the Jewish community around-the-clock, which it then disseminates to its members. Goldenberg adds that the SCN is the first nongovernmental organization to have a memorandum of understanding with the New York City Police Department.

The group is also working with the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate its house of worship training. The most important step a house of worship can take is to train its staff to handle threatening situations and to ensure that they are able to operate any security equipment the building has, says Goldenberg, who was part of a south Florida undercover strike force for several years. (Hawkins)

The above citation suggests two important aspects of providing security for synagogues. The first of these…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:

"The-Skinhead-International:-United-States" 

Cite This Research Paper:

"Houses Of Worship Are Vulnerable" (2010, March 27) Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/houses-of-worship-are-vulnerable-1046

"Houses Of Worship Are Vulnerable" 27 March 2010. Web.6 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/houses-of-worship-are-vulnerable-1046>

"Houses Of Worship Are Vulnerable", 27 March 2010, Accessed.6 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/houses-of-worship-are-vulnerable-1046

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Veterans and Retirees Is the Government Keeping Its Promise

    Veterans & Retirees; Is Government Keeping its Promise This study aimed at exploring the experiences and perceptions of Veterans belonging to Lousiana and Mississippi about three variables; the accessibility of organization; the accessibility of benefits and availability and adequacy of the facilities being provided by government through VA. The respondents were also asked to suggest whether there is a need for improvement and what should VA do to provide benefits and

  • Terrorism Encyclopedias and Dictionaries Define

    At times terrorist succeed and at times they fail. Some times they have larger and long-term goal and some times they have short-term aims. For example, a group hijacking a plane wanted some immediate results like release of the prisoners or financial gain but blowing a plane into a building would definitely mean that terrorists wanted something big out of it. Sometimes terrorists want to just cause panic and

  • Hagia Sophia the Triumph of

    But restoration efforts are hampered by the political and religious struggles that still define the area. The building is deeply symbolic for Christians, Muslims, secular Turks, and historical conservationists. Architectural historian Robert Ousterhout points out that "each group looks at Hagia Sophia and sees a totally different building" (qtd. In Bordewich 5-6). In his article, Bordewich examines the multiple agendas and suspicions of the groups seeking to control the restoration

  • Nursing Community Assessment

    Nursing Community Assessment It is moral responsibility of the Government and the nursing organizations to maintain the health standard in any country. However, it is not wholly in the hands of these organizations but other departments must also contribute for this cause. This study is focused on the county of Astoria, Queens, New York for helping the nurses in doing their job in the right way. The study highlights the demographics, major

  • Public Space The Living Room

    The presence of water is also central to the architecture of mosques, albeit for religious more than aesthetic purposes. Conclusion: Two Squares, Two Cultures The Place de la Concorde shares more in common with the Maidan-i-Shah than is immediately apparent. The two squares are about the same size: around 8 hectares. Both have been used for multiple purposes and whisper the changes that have taken place within their respective cities. Political

  • Joint Commission to Determine the Spiritual Needs

    Joint Commission To determine the spiritual needs of patients and the impact it is having on their treatment options requires focusing on four different questions. These include: What are the long-term effects of using spiritualism with modern medicine? Is there some kind of balance that must be maintained during this process? How can health care professionals incorporate these ideas into their overall philosophy of improving treatment options? What are the possible drawbacks of using these

  • Vietnam War Has Left a

    In comparison to Kovic, Reynolds joined the war precisely because she was acquainted with its unjustness and with the suffering that it provoked. She too had initially been inclined to support the war, particularly considering that her brother was already on the front and her father performed efforts with the purpose of having more Americans involved in the conflict. However, as time passed, she realized that the war was immoral


Read Full Research Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved