Hope everyone is enjoying their Passover. I must share that we had Seder at a friend’s house and the father (a Ph.D. in computer science) created the most challenging afikomen hunt in history. The afikomen was placed in a lock box with a four-digit code to open the box. Each child (ages 14-18) was provided a rather difficult Passover-themed math word problem to solve to get their digit of the code. It was fun!
Sadly, world events, including what just happened in Sri Lanka, dictate enhancing community security. Over 30 Jewish communities around the country have hired a community security professional. Although having someone in this role will not stop all potential security issues, the person can help strengthen our infrastructure and better prepare our organizations.
In partnership with the Secure Community Network (SCN is the official homeland security and safety initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America. Founded in 2004, under the auspices of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, SCN serves as the central organization dedicated exclusively to the safety and security of the American Jewish community,) we are pleased to share that following a several months-long, extensive national search, recruitment and interview process, the Jewish Federation has hired Gene Moss as our Director of Community Security.
Mr. Moss served in law enforcement for over 28 years, including two years as Chief of Police for the City of Cornelius, Oregon. He was selected from a pool of over 65 candidates, having gone through several rounds of interviews with executive leadership from SCN, the Jewish Federation, and key community leaders. Mr. Moss was ultimately selected in part due to his extensive and broad-based law enforcement and public safety experience, significant local, county, state and federal law enforcement relationships, proven crisis management experience and deep qualifications aligning with the description and requirements of the position, to include extensive involvement in training development.
We look forward to welcoming Gene to his new position on May 13.
This position is made possible by a four-way funding partnership between SCN, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the Community Endowment Fund of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, and local community organizations. We are also pleased that the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation has provided a grant for security training for teens in our community.
On a national level, I am pleased to share that SCN (via the Jewish Federations of North America) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have convened a new national Community Safety and Security Task Force. This task force will be chaired by former Department of Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Jeh Johnson. The task force will work to enhance the safety, security and resiliency of religious communities.
Following the October 27th attack on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, SCN and the ADL came together to address hate, anti-Semitism and threats as well as violence targeted at the Jewish community in the United States. Given that many threats impact all faith-based institutions regardless of affiliation, and as seen in the tragic attack on the Muslim community in New Zealand and the Christian community in Sri Lanka, the task force will develop best practices that can enhance the safety, security, and resilience of all faith-based communities.
The task force will develop best practices to increase coordination and cooperation related to incident tracking, information sharing, reporting and addressing threats, as well as building partnerships within and across communities. Building from the experience and expertise developed within the Jewish community, and inclusive of other faith-based communities, the task force will make recommendations to more effectively address hate crimes while enhancing safety and security for all faith-based institutions.
“Protecting our communities and creating cross-faith relationships will both promote the unity within our diverse society and also add critical resources to our security arsenal,” said Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.
“Law enforcement alone cannot protect our communities – communities themselves need to be prepared to work with law enforcement, and to maintain awareness of threats they may face,” said Jeh Johnson, former Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama. “We need to build partnerships and lift up community capabilities before extremists have the opportunity to become threats.”
We are pleased that the Jewish community has taken the lead on convening a range of faith andcommunity leaders, as well as representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement, among others.
Next week, our community will hold its annual Yom HaShoah Commemorative Service on Wednesday, May 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, memorializes the millions of victims of persecution and mass murder during the Holocaust. Join local Holocaust survivors, their families, rabbis, and community members for a candle lighting ceremony to mark this day. We ask that you please bring a yellow flower to symbolize life.
If you are a descendant of a survivor or victim of the Shoah, you are invited to perform two songs in memory of those survivors who have recently passed. A rehearsal will take place at Congregation Neveh Shalom on Monday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m. If you plan to attend the rehearsal, please RSVP here.
In addition, the annual Reading of the Names ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 2 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Here in Portland – as they do in Jewish communities around the world – we gather throughout the day to read the names out loud of the men, women, and children murdered by Nazi Germany and its European collaborators between 1933 and 1945. The list comprises names archived at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem.
Enjoy the remainder of the Passover holiday. The Jewish Federation office will be closed on Friday in observance of the holiday. Thus, an early Shabbat shalom to you and your family.