Boston: Security and Being Safe

It was the 1960s in Belmont, Massachusetts. In suburban Boston. The very next town to Watertown. Our front door was always unlocked. It was a time when kids came home from school for lunch.

There weren’t many marathons back then. “Boston” was the premier marathon in the world. Spring vacation was always that week and I have memories as a teenager and as an adult living in the Boston area cheering on runners at Heartbreak Hill or at the finish line at the Prudential Center.

I watched the events of last week in Boston from Israel. Since our last visit two years ago, with our son who lives near Tel Aviv, there are no longer security people inspecting your bags at restaurants or at supermarkets. Soldiers and guns are still everywhere. And unfortunately, the threat of terrorism and war are often on the minds of our Israeli family members and friends.

Years ago, we would have only found out about the tragedy at the Marathon by reading a newspaper the next day. My IPad was evidence that technology allows you to follow news as it is happening.

On Friday morning, a high school friend who lives in Watertown posted several entries in real time on his Facebook page as the police were in his driveway and backyard.

I wonder if Congress will be able to return to the gun control debate that had dominated the news just days before.  Or even begin the immigration debate without a whole lot of unnecessary rhetoric.

Last July, at the time of the Aurora tragedy I wrote about synagogue security and provided some helpful resources.  Take a few minutes and review these.

I wish I could provide you with a guarantee that everything will be all right. That everyone will be safe.

There is a synagogue on the campus of Tel Aviv University that I visited last week. Wonderful architecture.  The front door is open all the time. Of course there are security checkpoints around the perimeter of the campus where you have to enter and your bags are inspected at that time.

As we entered the campus, I was reminded of a synagogue in Florida where not only were my bags inspected, but so was the trunk of my car.

Walking through the synagogue, I remembered that this is what it was like to go into the Beth El Temple Center for Hebrew School. You would get out of the car and run through the back door that was always open.

I was also reminded of a handful of synagogues I have visited where I could just go through the front door without having to be buzzed in or announce myself to someone.

You want congregants to feel safe at synagogue. It shouldn’t feel like a fortress.

As you review security procedures at your synagogue, you should of course consult with local law enforcement officials.

Next week, I promise a more uplifting read.

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