After Pittsburgh, What Is The Future Of Synagogue Security?

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Yesterday was a wake-up call.

As we were finishing Shabbos morning services, word filtered into our shul in Cleveland about a synagogue shooting in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh with multiple casualties.

Along with my 5 brothers, my wife, and her 4 brothers, I spent my high school years in Pittsburgh. My wife and myself have multiple siblings, relatives, and friends who live in Squirrel Hill.

As it was Shabbos, nobody could use any electronic devices to find out exactly what happened and where. I thought back to the email I shared last month about a non-Jewish reader who shared how much he learned about the sacrifices made by observant people by reading this blog. I answered that I viewed those sacrifices as a feature, not a bug of being religious. However at a time when you don’t know if immediate family is safe, it does feel somewhat constraining.

After Shabbos we learned that 11 people died Al Kiddush Hashem, paying the ultimate price because they were Jews praying to G-d. And we heard from each of our relatives and friends that they were safe, including ones that shared a backyard with the Tree of Life.

After the horrific 2008 terrorist attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai, things started changing on a local level. The 4 grand synagogues in Cleveland that are part of one large campus went from being a beautiful showing of unity to a potential soft target. Police presence on Shabbos increased and many congregants with concealed carry licenses received permission to pack heat as well. In our shul we went from having 6 external doors open on Shabbos to having just one open door with a volunteer armed congregant serving as greeter and protector.

But is that enough to stop a Mumbai style coordinated attack or even a lone wolf?

I started this site while volunteering for a year as a bochur shliach, mentoring students in Sao Paulo back in 2004. We heard about the terrible crime there and that the head of the school’s father had been murdered when he refused to allow thugs into his house where his wife was at the time.

Many synagogues and apartment buildings there have antechamber rooms in which you are locked while a guard clears you for entry. Is that something that might be needed in the US?

Or is a dedicated guard enough to deter an attack?

I don’t have the answers, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Baruch Dayan Ha’emes, Hashem yinkom damum. May their neshamas have an aliya.

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216 Comments On "After Pittsburgh, What Is The Future Of Synagogue Security?"

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JJ

Armed participants in shul.

MJ

Agreed

Moshe Friedman

Agreed but nyc doesnt issue carry permits.

Name not relevant

When you live somewhere that doesn’t honor the Constitution, too bad.

Uncle P
Adam B

Some parts of the US have CSS: https://www.thecss.org/

Jonny

CSS isn’t armed. They literally train using pens as if those will fend off s gunman. Total joke.

E

At the very least, every shul needs to have 1 member have a licensed firearm.
In orthodox shuls, there should also be an emergency button by the bima or some other location that will alert authorities instantly with a press of a button.

Freddy

I was thinking the same thing. Orthodox synagogues are sitting ducks, no phones.

Yakster

Our shul has one, however police response time would never be quick enough to thwart the bulk of the threat. Unfortunately, legally armed (and trained) congregants in the shul lobby seems to be the most practical solution. Sad, so sad.

Barry

When seconds count, the police are just minutes away!

Shulammis

There will always be a Mispallel with a phone, e.g. a doctor on call (we have many in our Shul)

Steve

We have spoken about this in our shul as well. We have member volunteers, two armed guards and a police car with non armed police employee. Still not enough but not bad

Shimon

A bank hostage crisis usually doesn’t start with shootings. The goal is money. In a terrorist attack it only takes 5 minutes to kill 11 people – the same 5 minutes it takes for police to arrive. An emergency button is not enough.

E

Better than nothing..for now

Name not relevant

“Licensed”. LOL. And that attitude is part of the problem.

אברהם

שומר ישראל שמור שארית ישראל

Mike

אמן

Abe

Before everyone starts sharing info about their own shul or organizations that are taking the lead on this issue, please keep in mind that not everything is for the public to know… use some seichel before posting your opinion or facts.

Josh

For each shul to hire armed guards would be an exorbitant cost – and how long would they need to be there? Every davening? Every shiur? Such a cost would drive people away from Shuls. And if the govt underwrote these costs how would that not be a violation of church and state? And would the govt underwrite every mosque as well? This would spiral out of control and the unintended consequences would be significant.

I just don’t understand why as a country people need to have assault rifles. Having limited gun control just makes too much sense.

E

Gun control will only stop good people from having guns. For some reason the bad guys manage to get them. Only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

reb yid

The govt helps out financially with security at many religious institutions. It’s apparently not a violation of church and state.
Gun control may or may not be a good idea, depending on your point of view, but since it’s not in place very stringently right now, something else needs to be done until that time.

suburban school

Correct and incorrect. There are non-profit homeland security grants that shuls can tap for security infrastructure (i.e. not labor expense for guards) – but it has always seemed to be limited to urban areas. My orthodox shul is the burbs and we get bubkes.

Name not relevant

If you don’t like the Constitution, please feel free to leave.

Eli

Stop with the “holy” constitution. It’s not the word of God. It was written by “people” some 250 years ago, before nowadays when an armed police officer at your door is just a phone call away, before today’s days when crazy parents allow such easy access to firearms for their upset & emotionally retarded teenagers, and before the times when armed drug gangs and radical Islamic terrorist ruled the world. The fact is that countries with stricter gun laws have far less massacres than we in The US have the “privilege” to suffer, unfortunately!

Theblaide

Every shul should have 5 or so congregants that bring a gun with them to shul that way the security cost won’t get out of control

Steve

AND be trained

Alex V

We need to arm ourselves. We are responsible people. It’s done in Europe and Israel and it works.

Flying Jew

This was just a matter of time and unfortunately believe it will happen again. Israel model is only thing that works….train as many Jews that are willing to carry a gun. Every Jew a 22. Cant rely on others to protect us.

Josh

In Israel private citizens aren’t allowed to carry guns. Getting a permit is MUCH more difficult than in the US.

Anonymous Coward

Not true, they’ve made it a lot easier <– anyone who was an infantry man in the army can get one now, as well as all sorts of others.

Emes

Me thinks you are wrong in stating private citizens can’t carry guns.

Don’t know about the permit thing, but definitely know plenty of friends and close family members that carry and have seen it first hand.

Steve

False.

Jonathan Nissanoff

In Texas the crime rate is 0%.practically. that is because everyone knows that everyone is packing. Try holding up a store and you are guaranteed to be a shooting target for all.
Most shul securities are not the strongest to say the least.
I think that every shul needs to have digital gun lock boxes throughout the shul . Especially one near where the rabbi sits. He is the only one seated looking at the entrance. All congragants need to have training to use a gun and have access to these gun boxes that are filled with loaded weapons. There needs to be signs everywhere letting people know that the shuls congragants are armed. This should serve as a deterrent. I cannot see any other means of protection except from within.

Josh

Except one of the massacres happened in Texas at a church. Having armed “good guys” helped end it but you still had 10+ dead

Avi

There wasn’t a single armed person in the church. The one who came with a gun was the next door neighbor.

Moshe

Texas’s violent crime rate is 17.3 percent higher than the national median, and the property crime rate is 6.9 percent higher. Texas has a similar proportional makeup of crimes by type to the national median. Source: https://muninetguide.com/u-s-state-crime-rates/

Johnathan Shwarz

What normal reason would a private citizen have an assault rifle? Has nothing to do with the right to bear arms. We have nobody to blame but the prostitue politicians who take money from the NRA. The blood of those who gather to pray in any house of worship is on their hands. Maybe next time if a politicians family is slaughtered they will get the message.

Jonny

It’s pretty shallow to simply blame this on the NRA. That’s a weak, left wing talking point.

As far as “assault weapons”, a made-up term fabricated by the left (there’s no such thing as a device strictly defined as an “assault weapon” in the nearly endless terminology of firearms), there’s every reason I should and can own one. If I’m getting a gun to protect myself and my family, why shouldn’t I be allowed to obtain the best quality tool on the market? Maybe I should be abke to tell you that you don’t *need* a Lexus bc you can drive a Kia?

I’d suggest researching the major causes of gun deaths in the US. Hint: “assault weapons” kill fewer people than those who slip in bathtubs. So before you try and strip yourself of your own rights in this county, be wary and do some honest reflection.

Steve

I bought one for my daughter to use for her Bat Mitzvah. My kids learn to shoot, fight and fend themselves and their neighbors. Yours should too

Devorah Lederman

American citizens have the right to bear arms for EXACTLY this type of situation.

First off, I’d like to see a breakdown of the crime statistics about Texas. There are many other ways to commit murder than just a gun. Are you going to ban knives from Mexican residents? I’m not being racist – I know many Mexicans in the US. What about poisons and women?

R

Liberals need to learn what an “assault rifle” is. It is a technical term that relates to parts of the gun that define it as an assault rifle that have NO EFFECT on the shooting mechanism. An assault rifle is NOT an automatic weapon — contrary to what the left wants you to believe

Name not relevant

Wasn’t an assault rifle. Read a dictionary. Also read the Constitution, and if you have a problem with it please feel free to leave.

:-(

The first thing I will do is carry a cellphone on Shabbat (in case of emergency). The second thing is get licensed to carry, while taking target practice. Every shul needs more than one (sane, rational) member who is armed and skilled at using a weapon in self defense and defense of others. An armed guard outside (which we already have) is simply not enough. Jews in the US now need the same heterim as Jews in Israel. In Israel, casualty numbers this high only happen when noone among the attacked is armed (Har Nof attack). It’s impossible to prevent attacks (or attempts). It is very possible to limit the number of casualties to few or zero.

R

When I got married, my wife started making me carry a cell phone on Shabbat. I carry a regular non-smart phone that is a different number that nobody knows except for her. Prevents receiving any calls and at the same time allows for emergencies.

Eli

Hope you bums asked a rabbi before!

Eb

But your calling them bums before waiting for a response to find out if they did?

:-(

Calling us bums makes me feel sorry for the guy.

:-(

Don’t need a heter for known halacha. Pikuach nefesh docheh Shabbat.

Bill

I did not wait to get my heter from either rabbonim or rabboneheads – mine comes straight from the KB”H who I know wants me to choose life and to live. I have two Shabbes goyim who help me, named Smith and Wesson, and after a few lessons in how to use their tools I received a competency diploma and “graduated” as a Yoreh Yoreh.

Effie

lol

:-(

Love it!

Avi

You win this comment thread.

Nathan

One entrance with armed security. After 9/11 our school in Los Angeles had former IDF soldiers securing the entrances. Armed.

It’s time we return to that level of security, especially at schools and shuls in more ultra orthodox neighborhood I.E. Lakewood etc. that are more lax on security.

BMG has several buildings with many entrances, with one patrol car for all of them.
That’s unacceptable.

5

This level of detail (whether accurate or not) isn’t smart on a public forum. Moderators please delete

a

correct

elli

I second that

Lakewood resident

Your crazy to post that online! and it’s not true they have much more security than that

Gamliel

We should not be mentioning specific locations in public.

Let’s just make it clear that there are soft targets out there that need hardening.

Joe

Agree with “Theblaide”, Have each shul several members carry the firearms.

Akronlbj

CCWs for people who feel comfortable packing in shul. Better the bullets fly two ways than one. Antechamber rooms are a great idea as well. Note that 4 cops were maimed in the Tree of Life shooting so how can we reasonably expect a single armed guard to stand up to an AR-15? Also, those that are cruel enough to carry out an attack have to know that it’s a suicide mission – meaning they will be killed (no getting arrested and put on trial leaving them another few years to live). Jewish blood cannot be cheap.

Krum Cup

Cops arrival was after shooting had stopped, and shooter was apparently at window, watching, waiting and then shooting at them. Armed congregants + an armed guard, even if shot upon shooter’s entrance would have shot back and ended it much sooner.

Steve

To be clear, having an AR is not having a bazooka. Its a rifle instead of a handgun. Hardly makes it indefensible just sayin’

Shmuel

The government already provides significant resources via a federal security grant. Unfortunately the grant is not allowed to be used for security guards, only for passive security measures like cameras and doors. The Jewish school where I work would have full time armed security if we could afford it. The security grant gives us enough money but we can’t use it for guards. Change that rule and shuls and schools will have the ability to hire skilled armed security whenever they are operating.

Food for thought

Agree to those that say congregants should have guns. There should be 1 for every # so a large shul should have more then smaller ones. In this horrible story it took 10-20 minutes for police authorities to arrive and even then it took them time until they went in. Imagine if there were guns available? Now we believe what ever was suppose to happen was gonna happen. But we need to do our histadlut. All the big organization out there that Aguda and whichever others should get up and make a statement that something like this should get done that there should be some people to have permits to have guns bec security for every shul and every minyan won’t work

Avi

According to the news, police were on site within 1 minute which is insanely fast

Alyssa

Having locked doors where you need to be buzzed in can help prevent these attacks. There was the incident in the south last week where the murderer attempted to get into a church and could not durbto doors being locked. Instead he (unfortunately) murdered 2 black seniors at Kroger’s

Jonny

I’m a firm believer that members should be conceal carrying. In fact, many “free states” that allow CCW, have many members carrying. I’ve seen it first hand when I visit FL, TX, OH, MI, etc.

Unfortunately, in non-free states such as NY/NJ, where a CCW permit is impossible to obtain, (and only criminals own/carry guns), almost no shuls/yeshivas have armed members.

As a gun owner living in NY/NJ, I find it abhorrent that I cannot carry my gun on me while in shul or yeshiva. Like it or not, we are, and have always been, targets.

jimmy

GUN FREE ZONE OPEN SEASON
Their rabbi was quoted as saying that he didn’t want to live in a country where synagogues had to have security. Putting one’s head in the sand doesn’t change the fact that Jew-haters have always been out there.
The leftists, which include too many jinos, ie Schumer, Feinstein, Boxer, Cardin, etc., have no problem inciting hate and advocating violence. These jinos are the Jewish face that Jew-haters use to justify their actions.

JWCAOJAWDBTC

I’m so glad I can come to my favorite blog after shabbos and hear a fellow jew refer to other bnei yisroel as JINOs (Jews In name Only). This is exactly what we need after a horrific attack is carried out. Especially since the congregants were most likely Conservative jews. How does one register as a name-only Jew? Is that something that is done with the government, or does Hakadosh Baruch Hu make a list and distribute it via list serve?
Any info would be appreciated, thanks!

– JWCAOJAWDBTC
(Jew Who Cares About Other Jews And Was Disgusted By Your Comment)

David

Couldn’t have said it better

yaks

One of the shuls in where I live, has emergency buttons that notify police when held down for a few seconds. BH was never used as far as I know.

Freddy

I find it absurd that the democrats are using this tragedy for political gain. Not the time. Trump said it absolutely right, if there was an armed guard it would have deterred or minimized the situation. They said it’s victim blaming, yet have no personal connection. Trump has Jewish grandchildren, and understands the situation intimately. We cannot allow politicians to exploit this situation, not acceptable

Anon

It was used for political gain on both sides. Trumps message was exactly that.

If there was a guard or a someone with concealed carry, how are you certain it wouldn’t have made things worse. Read some stories of cops or soldiers under fire and how they
react. Just look at the school shooting in Florida last year that had an armed guard. Many of these people that we’re asking to volunteer have never been in that situation. How are you to know they won’t shoot at the wrong person by mistake, or just run?

It’s very easy to assume how people will react to things if you’ve never been in that situation. Running into a room with a guy firing an AK47 with a glock sounds like a great idea on paper, until it’s not. Many of these shooters wear kevlar too.

Name not relevant

An armed guard that ran away. Try facts.

Armed participants

Food for thought,

Assuming there is one/several armed participants in shul and a gun fight does break out after a gunman enters, how will the police identify the shul congregants from the shooter being that both have guns?
If police/swat do arrive on scene and see someone with a gun, that person may get shot/killed even though he is actually there for protection.

Maybe they need some sort of identifying vest?
But then the gunnman will know to take them out first, having seen their vests…

Not sure the answer, just bringing it up for discussion.

Abe

There is protocol for that with the organizations I referred to above.

Tuli G.

Even Mental health clinics that often see ample high risk patients have a panic button set up discretely. It appears that for our synagogues this might have become a necessity as well.

OM

I don’t think armed guards are a practical solution. In this case the gunman shot 4 police officers and that’s when the gunman didn’t have the element of surprise.

Name not relevant

Your understanding of the situation is incorrect.

Ryan

I’m in Canada. Impossible to get a gun license for anything but target practice.

Shuls are sitting targets here as well. But knowing it’s just as hard for the bad guys to obtain a gun (especially an assault rifle) does make me feel more at ease.

There is plenty of gun crime here, but it is almost all with illegal weapons.

Seriously, the gun culture in the US is illogical. Having said that, if I lived there I would certainly carry.

Steve

So a criminal will still shoot you and that makes.you feel better? I dont get.it

ryan

My point is that it’s very hard to get guns. You can’t walk into a Walmart and pick up an AR-15.

Someone like this bloke could have ranted on-line all he wants but it would have been extremely difficult for him to carry it out.

Arieh

I’m in Canada too. There are plenty of Security Companies that of course have armed guards, you just need one of them at the entrance with an antechamber, that’s all.

Ryan

You cannot simply hire an armed private guard in Canada.

The only exception are Brinks drivers and related industries. They have to be specifically guarding money or valuables.

Human beings aren’t valuable enough.

If you want an armed guard you need to hire cops.

Name not relevant

It wasn’t an assault rifle. Learn your facts or be quiet. And sorry to disappoint you, but Canada’s gun crime rate is not 0%. Seems funny how bad guys don’t follow the law.

Sam

We need LEGISLATION to stop the tremendous amount of ONLINE HATE. The amount of hate against us that is posted on online media, Social media comments is crazy!

In Lakewood it is a every day occurrence for calls to made that the Jews should be gassed, on the APP website. This must stop.

This should be stopped.

Additionally, the sites that fermented and helped form this persons ideas, should be sued.

Jonny

Trample on the first amendment instead of taking advantage of the second? I see you like to live dangerously…

Sam

Online hate is much more regulated in Europe. I do not think it is dangerous.

Name not relevant

Many freedoms are regulated in Europe and it isn’t working out well. You’re an idiot.

Jacob

My area has many shuls, there is one that stands out that should be an example. It has a large budget, but we can take example from it. The large intimidating guards standing outside, act as an initial deterrent. A security station when you first enter with cameras looking at every angle before you enter, and double doors, so that if the situation gets passed the first door, the armed guards can eliminate the situation before it gets thru the second door.

For smaller shuls there should still be someone on outside with a panic button that would lock down the shul. Having someone inside only works if they’re well trained, but would also cause more possibility of tragedy. You want to keep the assailant(s) from getting into the cockpit(kahal)

Zac

It’s time to stand up for ourselves, teach our children Krav Maga, get a few Mispalelim concealed carry-on pistol license, no, there’s no need for a Rifle in order to fight big guns, if you are a gun owner with some experience, you know that a single shot from a pistol can bring down a machine gun operator.

Whether you’re like him or not, Trump is right, we gotta have protection in our Schools, Yeshivas & Shuls.

For whoever doesn’t know, almost every school, Yeshiva, big shul and Lehavdil a shopping mall, has at least one armed guard at its entrance.

It’s time to stand up for ourselves, learn to fight back, carry the right tools to shoot down potential attackers and avoid tragedies.

I know that there’s some people who say “you gotta have bitachon”
I just wanna tell them, “you gotta do hishtadlos too”
You just can’t go mountain climbing with no gear, and just go with the thought I have bitachon… Hashem wants you to be aware of your surroundings, take care and and protect yourself, Vnishmartem Meod Lenafshosechem!

Hinay Lo Yunim Vlo Yishan Shomer Yisrael!

jh

Armed gaurds are too expensive for all shuls, it will never happen.
Armed AND TRAINED mispalilim is the only answer.
but legal and insurance issues should be handled as a community to assure every shul can be covered.
They have started this in our shul a little while back and hopefully now everyone will take it seriously

jh

A panic button with live feed hookup to the police is a very simple and realistic option as well

Jeremy

The synagogue I attended in Texas had police during High Holidays and Shabbat. They were not there soley to help with traffic (it wasn’t Orthodox).

Jim

3 blocks Straight down from my address , near the lake and a park, a young man with full Jewish dress , that’s what I heared was gunned down few weeks ago at late night. You may have heared that news as it was a national news. That’s bad cos it is also close to a small children’s park where during the day we take our child to. Sad to see the memory, candle and couple of his belongings . The same man shot another man in the morning 2 days earlier who wasn’t Jewish.

Jodi

I really hate to say anything about innocent victims of an attack, but shame on everyone of both genders that wasn’t carrying a weapon in a red state that permits its citizens to carry.

I would never think about going to shul without at least one gun.

I cringe when I visit my relatives in ny and jersey where they don’t permit law abiding citizens to carry.

The stupid mentality of Jews that guns are for other people.

You can hire 10 security guards and it wouldn’t do a damn thing. They simply don’t know who belongs in shul and who doesn’t. 90% or more, would let any white guy in a suit that smiles and says good morning, right into shul. Years ago, my shul in Florida hired the sheriff for Rosh Hashanah. I walked in in shorts, a cutoff shirt and a black backpack. Sheriff didn’t say a word to me. I walked right in. The only security that works is Israelis, and orthodox shuls do not want to hire them, because in most cases they drive to work on Shabbat.

Plus, armed security doesn’t protect you going and returning from shul.

There is no reason that every person in shul that is eligible to carry a weapon, doesn’t so carry.

I cringe at the thought of going to the siyum hashas in ny. Doesn’t matter how many metal detectors everyone passes through. To get 80000 or more people inside necessarily requires large groups to be waiting to get in. What an open target that is.

Everyone in business and other areas knows, when you want a job done right, you do it yourself. That includes your personal security, in shul and everywhere else.

And New Yorkers need to vote republican and have the laws changed. Bad enough how much taxes you pay, at least be able to live and defend yourself.

Akronlbj

Well said

Yonah

One solution that works – is having volunteer congregants work in conjunction with outside security. The volunteer congregants do the screening. This obviously works well in smaller communities, where presumably the volunteers know at least 90% of those walking in the door.

David Rauer

I would volunteer but New Jersey has draconian concealed carry laws which prohibit your average citizen from defending himself or his shul.

ab

in all of Europe you cannot get into a shul unless you come before Shabbat and give your passport. there are guards with guns and a security booth with a lock noone can get in unless they have a passport or is a congregant.

Bob

I am not Jewish, so I relied on a 2017 article by a Jewish writer for Haaretz to explain why our President is anti-Semitic. Among other factors, it reminded me how he observed International Holocaust Day without mentioning Jews. The author writes, “I’ve been hoping for Trump to say something, do something about anti-Semitism for well over a year. Trump’s silence speaks volumes to avowed, proud anti-Semites. Trump’s silence is loud and clear: I’m with you.”

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-yes-donald-trump-is-an-anti-semite-1.5437419

So let’s not talk about politics, and find other explanations for why anti-Semitic incidents increased 60% from 2016 to 2017. Maybe it’s climate change.

What I don’t understand is why a Las Vegas casino owner can be devoutly Jewish yet contribute $88 million to right-wing causes. But I’m sure he knows a lot about security, and maybe he can help out, if not with cash then at least with advice.

Devorah Lederman

Dan, I agree, but when Obama became president I made sure we all had current passports. If Clinton had won I’d have worked on real escape plans.

alyssa

This affidavit, uploaded by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, makes it clear how Bowers repeatedly got the best of trained police officers who were trying to stop him, including a SWAT team. (pardon the spelling)

On Saturday. October 27. 2018 at approximately 0954 hours 911 dispatch received multiple calls to the Tree of Life Jewish
Synagogue. located at 5898 iMlkins Avenue. Pittsburgh. 15217 for gunshots being ?red. At that time multiple people were in
attendance at the Tree Of Life Synagogue and engaged in religious services and worship. Callers inside the Synagogue reported
an active shooter inside the location ?ring gunshots and relayed that they were being attacked.

Zone 4 Officers responded to the scene. Officers 1 and 2 arrived on scene and observed a male who was armed with an
assault-style rifle. This male. who was later identi?ed as Robert BOWERS. opened ?re on Officers 1 and 2. who then returned fire.
During the exchange Officer 1 was shot in the hand. Officer 2 received several cuts to his face from shrapnel and broken glass.
Bowers then retreated further into the building.

Pittsburgh SWAT formed a small team and entered the structure. inside the Synagogue, they observed that BOWERS had shot
and killed multiple victims (11 in total which consisted of 3 women and 8 male victims). Two victims (1 female and 1 male) received
gunshot wounds and were carried by SWAT Medics and Of?cers to the exterior of the building. They were then transported by
Pittsburgh Paramedics to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for treatment and are now listed as being in stable condition.

In the course of the deadly assaults. BOWERS proceeded to the third floor of the building.

SWAT operators entered the thIrd floor of the building. While searching for any remaining victims. Swat Operators encountered
Bowers, who opened fire on the Officers. During the gunfire, Officer 3 was shot multiple times and critically wounded. Officer 4 was
also shot multiple times by the actor. The remaining SWAT Operators engaged the suspect in a gun battle in which multiple
rounds were exchanged. Swat Operators carried the injured of?cers to the exterior of the building and both Of?cers were
transported by Pittsburgh Paramedics for treatment.

During the exchange of gunfire Bowers was wounded. While in custody and receiving medical treatment BOWERS made
statements to SWAT Operator David Blahut that he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to
his people.

Based on the forgoing your af?ants aver that there Is probable cause to charge Robert Bowers with 11 counts of Criminal Homicide
for the victims located inside the Synagogue, also 6 counts of Attempted Homicide and 6 counts of Aggravated Assault for the 2
victims who were shot inside the Synagogue by Bowers and the 4 Officers who were shot by Bowers during his rampage. Your
af?ants also believe that probable cause exIsts to charge Bowers with 13 court of Ethnic intimidation for the Homicides and
Assaults that he committed based on what Bowers himself described as his hatred for ?Jews?. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5022733-Robert-Bowers-1.html#document/p11

Name not relevant

Sounds like PD needs some more range and practice time.

Bruce

Why stop at shuls. What about wedding halls?

Arieh

I grew up in Peru, in a small Jewish community of 3,000. There has never been an Anti-Semitic shooting or something extreme, the people in general is not Anti-Semitic, however every single Jewish institution like the synagogues, Jewish school, the club, etc has “bitachon’. There is an antechamber where a security guy (non-Jew) opens the second door.

In fact, I was very surprised that in USA and Canada I was able to enter many shils just opening the door, when nobody knows who I am.

Josh

We need to start having all synagogues with an armed guard, maybe have an organization created for this. It should be in partnership with Agudath Israel of America and Young Israel. This will include equipping synagogues with a cutting edge surveillance system, armed guard, security protocols and members with guns as well.

While things like this don’t happen often thank god, we can’t take our peaceful state for granted. It needs to not only addressed but actually integrated in all synagogues across the country. Additionally it will only happen if there’s a group of leaders from different communities that come together and push this in to our current synagogues.

Chaim

I live in Lakewood and in a yeshivish type of development. I have a 9mm with two fully loaded clips in my shul hidden away with a finger print lock and a code. No one knows its there and I hope to never have to use it . It takes 2/3 training sessions to learn the in and outs and once every couple months for an hour to stay sharp. Every shul should have a t least one tatty who can respond

Shmoblo

Please give some details how difficult the process of obtaining the pistol was. Thanks

Abe

Chaim, you don’t sound like you’re trained nearly enough to use that gun safely in an emergency. You need some serious training. I’m all for guns in shul and there are organizations that are at the forefront of this. You shouldn’t be doin g this on your own. Additionally, NJ is practically impossible for you to receive a license to have that gun in shul. If ch”v you ever use that gun, you’re going to be locked up for a long time, regardless of the fact that you’ll be considered a hero by our community. If the perp survives you’ll be hit with a major lawsuit in addition to your prison time. Ask any lawyer…
DON’T BE A COWBOY!

Name not relevant

Magazines. This is reality not Call of Duty.

Daniel

Before we tackle guns in shul, lets fix the tuition “crisis.” Where to put the money? defending shuls/ schools that may not be able to financially exist? Asking to protect shuls when other projects call for money, seems like it won’t happen.
Just charge more for Shul membership. My sons school in NY did that 10 years ago. Put it on the parents and shul members.

baruch

each shul should have 5 people trained in using guns and should rotate each Shabbos one should be armed in plainclothes. This is pikuach nefesh

Berel Sholom Tzvi

In out Shul there are those of us who carry on Shabbos and Yom Tov. This is how it should be. Tree of Life has a Rabbi who is far left of center and anti gun. It is believed, although not confirmed, that there are no gun signs on the property. Just like Whole Foods has them now.

Devorah Lederman

There are many Jewish Americans who have served in the armed forces here and around the world. There are also many righteous goyish veterans and righteous goyim who know gun safety who would volunteer some time Saturday morning. They like cake and soda, too.

Benjamin

Dan’s immediate family, on Sabbath, is in Squirrel Hill, and he doesn’t call to find out if they’re safe because it would be breaking the rules of Sabbath? This is why reform Jews like me in this country have no desire to even be friends with the Orthodox. Do you understand that many things posted on this blog are in an ethically gray area? Calling an immediate family member to find out if they’re alive should be done. You’re living in a giant bubble with a warped view of reality.

Devorah Lederman

What’s going to help his family members by breaking Shabbos? Time enough for bitter news.

Steven

Benjamin,
I think you are missing the point. Had he found out on Shabbos he may have called his relatives however he did not find out what happened until after Shabbos.

Eli

Stupid and full of hate!!
Your closest relative is God! And yet you never think nor you care about how “HE” is doing when you violate every single word of the Torah day after day! Respect people who do care!

Ez

Benjamin, that’s a bit of a mean post. I am orthodox but taught one year in a Reform Hebrew school. Because of declining enrollment, for the first time in decades they chose not to co tinge the program. For many of those students Hebrew school is their only opportunity for something Jewish (and even the school pushed political left ideas as Jewish concepts). I never understood why politics (left or right) should be placed in any Hebrew school, but appears rly that’s the failing model for many Reform Temples. I don’t wish harm upon the reform movement, but many statistics say that the decline enrollment and participation is putting a large strain on surviving. My orthodox synagogue is not fancy, but we are flourishing and growing (entire neighborhood is). Can you say the same about your reform Temple? Would you say most of your congregants are children representing the future generation, or elderly members whose grandchildren take little part in Jewish or Trmple life? I’m asking with all due respect. Lastly, tragedies should never happen, but for the rare times they do, would you say that reform children are only using their phone on Shabbat in the event of an emergency, or are they texting and YouTubing throughout Shabbat?

SgtJoeFriday

Not Jewish, but I am a police supervisor with tactical training. Most local Police/Sheriff departments offer the option to hire off duty police officers to provide security either in uniform with a marked car or plain clothes if you prefer. They can also assist with traffic at the beginning and end of services. This offers a visible deterrent, tactically trained personnel, and a direct line of communication with additional first responders. I know this won’t appeal to everyone, but I just wanted you all to know that the option is out there. Be safe!

Itchakadoozie

Thanks for the info! My main concern is why these hate filled websites like Gab are allowed to operate. One learns to curb their virulent thoughts when forced to speak face to face. It’s so easy to hide behind the cover and anonymity of the internet and just let the hate in one’s heart get stronger without repercussion or others to speak some sense and help put things in perspective.
Our synagogue plans to look into your option after having been turned down for a homeland security grant and required to wait a year to reapply. G-d bless us all.

Name not relevant

It’s called the Constitution. You should read it sometime.

Itchakadoozie

You seem to be on a mission to bash comments as you perceive them without putting your name to it. Well, I love and forgive you wholeheartedly and only wish the very best for you and your family.

Itchakadoozie

And yes, I have read and am aware of the Constitution, but it was made by humans just like you and me. Free speech is not a reason to hide in anonymity and let one’s own myopic and subjective view of the world spew hatred and hate filled thoughts. That’s inhumane and quite disturbing. As for you, my friend, your name and your thoughts are extremely relevant so feel free to come out of the woodworks 🙂 I think your tone and replies to people’s posts would be a tad less pointed. Best of luck in all that you do!

Moshe

You can talk about ideas and everything. But never forget that hashem has his plans and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Shmuel

It sure is a good thing, Moshe, that gutsy Jewish partisans did not listen to you during the war. We would have never had Rav Gustman, zt”l, and tens thousands of others.

They broke out of ghettos and saved thousands of Yidden in the forests (i.e. Bielskis brothers as a great example) even as Hashem’s plan to allow the Churban was taking place. אל תתחכם יותר, למה תשומם.

Sandy

How about metal detectors before individuals enter shul to stop the problem before it starts?

Gman

Whether or not we have armed guards is secondary to improving our קדושת בית הכנסת. Leaving phones outside or a minimum ojnsikent and not looking at then in the middle of tefilah.

elli

After the har nof tragedy the mashgiach of yagdil in ey rav yitzchok vilensky shlita explained it with the same idea and added the pasok: “ki chizak brichei shurayich beirach bunayich bikirbeich”… It goes hand in hand.

Concerned

Maybe state and federal gun laws can be amended to allow a historically non-violent, highly productive segment of society the right to bear arms taking into account their ongoing 1000 year + violent persecution. Maybe governments can quietly adopt a subjective application of their laws or reverse racial profiling. Large shuls should adopt deterrents if they haven’t already. But what about the hundreds of shtieblach? What about the slurs that are occasionally hurled our way that are occasionally followed by violent attacks? What about the shuls that don’t have the means or the organizational methods to institute comprehensive security measures.

Name not relevant

No. The Constitution already addresses the bearing of arms.

Jonathan

To start just having a combination lock with all the people who come to daven y should have the combination to the . door should be locked 24/7 this is how they have it in England most shoul have a lock with a combination that’s the least we can do

jew

And all shuls in england also have Government sponsored security guards full time

Rich

I appreciate your words. We must not put our heads in the sand. Security is the # 1 issue at synagogues today and too many rabbis ignore it. My Chabad in Santa Monica is a fishbowl waiting for a hate crime to occur. The rabbi never speaks of it as if it will make it go away. Infuriating!

chaim

pray and belive in your g-d!

YD

I hope, there is never another incident like this, but we as Jewish leaders have a responsibility to ensure our community is prepared to handle situations like this.
There is no need for over reaction but heres my thoughts…

A few armed members of the shul ( who dont drink any alcohol at kiddish… Guns and Alcohol are a dangerous combination and just like a solider on duty cant drink, the member with the gun should not drink) should get together and come up with a plan that includes, ensuring members know what to do, who will secure the kids, who will ensure no one is in the line of fire etc….

As Children are usually in the hallways or playing outside, they to be trained not to open the doors for anyone, and to immediately report anything suspicious. Parents also need to know where there children are at all times.

Panic buttons are not a practical solution for so many reasons ( additional expense, lack of wifi, false alarms…..) but there should be three or four cell phones in shul always.

Security Cameras, paid for by federal grants are always a good idea as they may serve as a deterrent and live feed connection to the police will assist police in pinpointing the threat.

Lastly, Is tawareness…. Everyone should be trained how to respond, what steps to take, etc….. Shuls need to have quarterly safety and security meetings to ensure our safety

Izzy

The question is not “What is the Future of Synagogue Security?”, but rather “When are we moving to Israel?”

Eli

So at least there you’ll have the comfort of not getting so shocked every other day such shootings take place there???

boruch

Packing heat will only reduce the amount of casualties, not prevent an attack. Visible (armed) security will.

What about Jewish Schools?! They must be protected as well.

Having grown up in Europe, most Shuls and Schools have visible armed security in place. Some must be done here in the US.

Michael

Current best practices are found from NFPA 3000, ASIS international and DHS’s Run Hide Fight program. Dan’s Shul’s current practices are already far better than most. This is not something that can be stopped but the impact can be reduced with proper planning and training.

https://www.asisonline.org/publications–resources/security-topics/active-shooter/

Resources are freely available to help guide our communities, rather than have each person guess without expertise or research.

If you allow concealed carry into shul, make it part of the congregation’s culture and discuss it openly. Have group training events and shooting trips.

May we all be safe and may those sick enough to thick we are their enemies have their minds healed, so that we may all be loving friends.

Aaron

I know some shuls have nightlock – https://nightlock.com/, which creates a barricade in case of a lockdown situations. As most Main Sanctuaries don’t have dead bolts, this seems like a good option.

Michael

This is illegal and dangerous. There are plenty of legal solutions that accomplish the same thing. Look at the Securitech solutions as an example.

Bob

File under “locking the barn door”: Reviewing all the responses here about opposing an armed gunman, I’m fairly sure the next attack on a synagogue will involve a bomb. As Oklahoma City proved, a lot of damage can be inflicted with a truckload of fertilizer, and the chances of escape are greater.

Or maybe the fertilizer is not necessary. There are a lot of pedestrians on their way to an Orthodox Shabbos service, right?

Shulammis

CHAS V’SHOLOM! Please be careful what you say, words have power!

Max

Dan- you gotta do this for klal yisroel. We need a comprehensive guide on how to get licensed to carry in all relevant states and we need a solid deal on a Glock. עת לעשות לה׳.
Maybe a forum conversation would be the best venue so people who have been successful can chime in.

Eli

EVERY JEW A .22 !!!

Abe

That is pure stupidity.

Jack

right….nothing less than 9mm

Moty

let’s not forget, even we are obligated to make “Hishtadlus” still אם ה’ לא ישמור עיר שווא שקד שומר!
There is no way to protect 100%, and גם כי אלך בגיא צלמות לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי

Stuart Falk

“..The architect of Trump’s draconian and cruel anti-refugee policy, Stephen Miller, is the Jewish great-grandson of indigent refugees. When Miller’s great-grandfather Nison Miller first applied for naturalization, in Detroit in 1932, the authorities gave a one-word reason for denying him: “Ignorance.”

The terrorist may have known about the Jews supporting Trump, or not. Irrationality is a defining aspect of anti-Semitism. Ignorance is another…

..The gunman seized upon Jewish aid for refugees because American Jews have a long history of supporting immigrants and refugees, their own as well as the oppressed and downtrodden from all over the world.

The Bible enjoins us not to forget that we were once strangers, and many of us, the majority, have not forgotten. Now it is our task to continue the fight, so that the tree of life may flourish.”

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-eshman-tree-of-life-antisemitism-20181028-story.html?fbclid=IwAR3kABQxjmy5lQi6IGd9q_Ql_cVkf52r-TuKqyoNS9XifQ-BGFnhkvBRfxI

Usher

I’m not a statistic guy, but probably more likely to get hurt in a car accident then an attack in shul. And since we all drive when unnecessary (we drive for leisure, not only if we need to get from point A to point B) and we are OK with that. I don’t see what this is different.
I remember when I was in Israel in the 2000’s we still took buses and went to dine in restaurants. And the directive was (Torah prospective) that as long as it’s not a MOKAM SAKANAH you can and should go on with your daily life. So in my opinion, if you travel in a car for leisure, don’t worry about going to schul.

Stuart Falk

“..common-sense gun safety regulation might make attacks like the one on Tree of Life synagogue less deadly — universal background checks, red-flag laws that take guns away from the mentally unstable, bans on high-capacity weapons like the AR-15 rifle that the alleged killer wielded…”

The Hate Poisoning America
After Pittsburgh, Americans need to ask more of their leaders, and of each other.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/28/opinion/pittsburgh-shooting-synagogue-bowers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Sharon M Alge

As I write this, my husband is on the phone with several agencies regarding this topic. I find that within my own community, I have brought this subject to many administrations over the past six years. Nothing

Sharon

…Nothing has been done. Well everybody is finally discussing armed security. If you want proper coverage you need for all minyan times over shabbos. During the week, doors should be locked and one person can open doors. Security costs should be added to all members annual bill. Of course, large donations would be welcome, and I ask those who can make $2-10K donations, please step up. The reason shuls are hesitating is because of money.
Please everyone, this has now become a basic cost of every Jewish school, shul, or organization. I promise you, those poor congregants at Tree of Life synagogue are not thinking that future security is an option because of money. Finally, we need the type of armed security that are former military. The highest rated security company’s employ these guys. Let’s all get on board to make this the norm in all Jewish institutions.

Yehuda

Armed citizens in shul conceal carry. Don’t let people without a need to know know

Gaurded with machine guns

There was a time (I believe it was following the drive by attack in toulouse), that the Jewish (lubavitch) schools in melbourne australia employed guards carrying machine guns.
Although I’m not sure that would alsways be a possibility.

Chaim

Trust me, they didn’t have “machine guns” not every weapon with a large scary looking barrel is a machine gun.

Jay

An armed police office in Nassau County costs apx $50/hr. that’s very affordable.

Bill

Most police departments will send in a security expert to advise how to better protect your people and property.
At least start there.
Retired NYPD

docntx

Both my wife and I are trained and licensed concealed/carry weapon trained. You would not know we are armed. Only the appropriate people in the synagogue know we carry a weapon, so no one might be uncomfortable or scared unnecessarily. We practice regularly, train with law enforcement, we study the best weapons and ordinance to use in the kind of circumstances we might encounter, and believe this is another way of quietly contributing to our kehila. When we say Never Again, we mean it.

J Lewis

I don’t want to go to a shul (or school or business) where others are carrying guns– would rather take the risk than live that way. And I hope as a nation we can get smarter about training anyone who has a gun and making sure those who carry guns are safe to do so.

Achshell

I think that
A) There should be a way to cash out CC miles and points twards Shul security.
B) People with 10M miles or more should have an Express way of getting a carrier permit.

mark

Guys! All you need is a code to get into the Shuls!!!! Simplest Option!!!!
Every Shul Should Have combination lock and thats the only way to enter!!!!

Miko

Many European shuls have hired dedicated, trained armed, shomrims (and typically non jewish), with video cameras and double-doors systems. For those who went to central London shuls, they know what I am talking about.

France went a step further and have their own protection networks with not only dedicated staff in each shul that belongs to the network, but also people patrolling in the frum neighborhood etc.

Bob

France has less than half a million Jews. The United States has six million, plus or minus. More importantly, France does not have African-American churches that are not only more numerous but more likely targets, based on recent events.

Steven Cohen MD

Aliah only answer

Yonah

Tell that to the people who were killed in the shul in Har Nof

Jim

The answer is not only security or armed men, that should be secondary to doing teshuvah and each and every person doing some self reflection into how they can improve themselves, so this doesn’t happen to our amazing nation again. The solution for getting a patche in the head from your father, is not to put on a helmet, because the father can hit you some where else. Just some food for thought. Perhaps like the Chabad rabbi from Pittsburgh said, we should try to take another Mitzvah upon ourselves.

Yonah

There are a lot of opinions and thoughts, so why not add two more cents. Every suggestion here – from access control all the way up to armed guards helps. If there was even an unarmed guard in pittsburgh who interrogated the shooter and sounded the alarm – the death toll might have been 2 or 3 instead of 11. (Even if it only saved one or two more lives, it would still be worth it) As it is, the Rabbi of the shul had put his active shooter training to use and, maybe saved a few more lives as well.

While it would be easy to argue that an armed guard or shul member could’ve stopped this attack sooner, bear in mind that in the chaos or confusion, an armed shulgoer could’ve easily shot another congregant, a police officer or have been confused for the shooter. If you’re going to bring guns into shul, it needs to be coordinated.

The other thing to remember, is that there is a fallacy that the only threat to our shuls is a shooter with a gun. There are many other threats to consider – Pedophiles, Estranged spouses (who might kidnap kids after losing a custody battle), missionaries who would interrupt davening, thieves looking to steal sifrei torah or silver. I realize that these threats are not anywhere as near to life threatening, but still threats that need to be addressed.

I realize that there are a lot of halachic issues with communications and other devices on shabbos. Hatzalah and other ambulance groups have heterim, because the pikuach nefesh situation is real, and well-documented. B”H, this probably one of the few attacks on a shul on shabbos. I hope that Rabbonim from each community can work with the teams securing their shuls to figure out how to secure their own kehilot and determine what appropriate heterim and/or accomodations can be made to meet that need. Some of the things that you’d need to consider (beyond Radio, Cell Phone, and weapon use for Guards) are cameras, electronic emergency locks, panic buttons etc.

The bottom line – the only wrong way to handle security is to sit there and DO NOTHING! Get together a group of people and discuss how you want to handle security at your shul – obviously include your Rov. Make sure that you appoint someone to coordinate with the local police – especially around Yomim Tovim. Most police departments have someone assigned to community relations who will coordinate security for holidays and communicate any threats to the shul – they need a point person to reach out to.

I wish we lived in a world, where anyone – not just Jews, but anyone from any religion, could walk into their house of worship and pray without fearing for their lives. We’ve long since have past that point, and this attack is hopefully a wake-up call for those shuls that are still in denial.

Jack

I moved out of brooklyn and to Miami in large part because of the restrictive gun laws in NY. I then stopped going to a particular chabad shul in miami once they put up a “no concealed weapons” sign. I’m now at a shul where the rabbi knows that I carry and supports it. I may not be able to stop an attack, but I’m not about to let the bad guys be the only one with guns while we wait around for incompetent police to set up a perimeter. I would rather die defending myself and my family, than die running for the exit. And I’m not worried about being mistaken for the shooter once the police arrive. Either I’ll be dead, or the shooter will be dead and I’ll already have my hands up.
Concealed carriers represent less than 5% of Americans but on a conservative estimate in one FBI study stopped 8% of shootings. Concealed carriers on average also commit less crimes than cops. The solution is not to take away guns from rational people. It’s to arm rational people.

Jack

Also considering that 4 cops in this case got shot, I don’t see the logic in saying that it’s better to wait for the “professionals” I’d say my chances are not worse than theirs. Especially in that “golden” first few minutes (before police arrive) when the shooter hasn’t had time to stake out a defensible position. And as far as training goes, police generally only have to “qualify” with their service weapon once or twice a year. I spend more time and money on ammo and range time practicing than that, certainly. As do most CC’rs that I know. Also, I read a statistic once that police have an 18% hit rate at 0-3yds, and it falls off to like 1% at 25+ yds, or something along those lines. Experts indeed. I’ll take my chances defending myself

Jack Friedman

A few panic alarm buttons (like the banks use) in key locations in the shul.

Sam

Just found this online. Uses AI to automatically alert police if gunshots are detects, minimizing response time to gunfire https://www.shotspotter.com/

The fact of the matter is that

It’s a little wierd that people are thinking a cell phone would help. Be real; it takes at least several minutes for cops to arrive. The only solution is trained armed members, like many synagogues have already began doing.

Just a thought

How about a guard dog at every shul, it’s way cheaper than a security guard and nobody can fool a dog that they should be allowed to enter the shul. I know that it isn’t enough to protect us but I think it might be an idea for a start.

lansky

rabbi aderert on whatsapp gives a powerful speech regarding this situation

Barry

https://patriot1tech.com/

Smart early weapon detection.

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