A matter that has caught the attention of many congregants has been the issue of security.  It’s certainly a different world we’re living in, and it’s continuing to change…not necessarily for the better in some cases.

As I mentioned in the communication that went out prior to the High Holidays, it is an extremely difficult balance to walk.  On one hand there are some people who want every possible security measure taken, and that makes a lot of sense.  However how do we balance that with the desire for more access to the building, not to mention the budgetary constraints?

Ideally I suspect we strive for (and will end up) somewhere between wide open access and a safe room.  Please make no mistake about it – the safety of our members, staff and guests is of paramount importance.  It’s just figuring out a practical way to accomplish it.  Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

One of the more important security features we’re adding is what I’m calling panic buttons.  Think of them as “I’ve fallen but I can’t get up” prototypes.  Let me explain.  In late Spring there was some theft at the Temple following a community wide event.  Apparently 1-2 people (we’re guessing) came in with the crowd and hid out.  When everyone left the intruders decided to help themselves.  Fortunately they only took two microphones before the motion sensors set off the alarms and they ran.

Both the Rabbi and Charles told me that they had done a quick walk-thru prior to leaving and didn’t see anyone.  But what if it didn’t happen that way?  What if, G-d forbid, as each of them individually did their walk-thru they actually would have encountered the intruders?  Candidly it startles, alarms and frightens me to think of what could have happened if either the Rabbi or Charles would have come face to face with what, in effect, was a cornered animal.

When we have Shabbat or other events, the Temple is full enough that there are really no isolated areas.  However on a daily basis that’s not true.  The safety of our staff and occasional guests needs to be anticipated.  With that in mind we are attempting to find room in the budget to purchase the panic buttons, which would cover our staff of five plus another five for the limited visitors we get.

The panic buttons would be required to be worn at all times by the staff and visitors so that no matter where they are in the building, if they encounter an emergency or threatening situation all they have to do is press the button.  That will trigger the alarm throughout the building and immediately notify the security company.

It is not my intention to alarm or scare anyone.  To the contrary I’m hoping that this update has given all some comfort.  However, the truth is that we live in an unpredictable world, and we’re taking the steps we can to minimize that risk.

On another matter, after I was elected President of TBJ I made the decision to try to meet with all of the past presidents individually.  My thought process at the time was to leverage their experience.  I wanted to get their insight from during their term and also their observations afterward.  At the risk of hurting my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back, what a good idea that was!

We have been blessed with a long line of incredible people who have been president at TBJ.  They are competent, knowledgeable, determined, tough, and able to see the bigger picture while paying attention to detail.  And you know what?  They have all been so gracious in giving me the benefit of their time and advice.  More on that in a bit.

Since the last Bulletin our congregation was shaken when Rabbi Kaufman discovered that he needed bypass surgery. Of course we were all relieved that the procedure was successful and the Rabbi is fast on the road to recovery.  I suspect a year from now if I want to meet with Rabbi Kaufman I’ll have to be on my bike and ride along with him while he is running between miles 10-15.

The consensus among the past presidents was that each president has a crisis or unexpected situation during their term.  In my best Jerry Lewis voice, “Hello!”  Of course I wasn’t expecting mine to come within the first few months “on the job,” but it happens when it happens.  That said, I don’t know how I would have handled the situation without the patience and advice of our past presidents.  What a bunch of mentsches!

Here’s wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Bill Grund