In the wake of the recent hostage crisis at a Colleyville, Texas synagogue, one survivor wanted to set the record straight: "We were not rescued," said Jeffrey Cohen. "We escaped." Cohen and his fellow survivors were able to remain calm throughout their ordeal thanks to security training they received through their synagogue. His experience underscores how critical community preparedness is in keeping our synagogues and local institutions secure — and preventing unspeakable tragedy.
In 2021, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford responded to the national rise in antisemitism by forming the Greater Hartford Secure Community Initiative, which operates in partnership with the Secure Community Network (SCN), a nationwide security organization for the Jewish community. In the coming months, our local initiative will conduct more than 20 safety and security assessments throughout the Greater Hartford area, offer on-the-ground training for active-shooter situations, and deepen our partnerships with key law enforcement officials.
These efforts represent months of planning, overseen by our recently hired Community Security Director, John Colangelo. In the days following the crisis in Colleyville, CNN reached out directly to our Federation to learn more about our local security work. In a CNN.com article, Rabbi Tuvia Brander of Young Israel of West Hartford praised John as the "go-to person for security" who "can take all the expertise, the wisdom, the training and the vast and deep resources of the Secure Community Network and institutionalize it in our community."
Of course, this level of preparedness requires broad support — and Greater Hartford’s Jewish community has responded. Thanks to your generosity, Federation has raised nearly $1 million toward our four-year security operational goal of $1.6 million. We have also begun fundraising for an endowment of at least $6 million, which will help keep our community secure for generations to come.
To learn more about the Secure Community Initiative, contact Laura Zimmerman, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President. To make a gift or pledge to the initiative, please contact Hayley Wasser, Vice President of Development.
Photo: Police conduct K-9 training in a local synagogue as part of the Greater Hartford Secure Community Initiative.