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Diaspora Jews need to change their mindset to handle emergencies

If you see something, say something. By remaining vigilant and prepared, individuals can better handle unexpected incidents.


The Jewish community in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles has been left feeling vulnerable and apprehensive after the shooting of two Jewish men leaving religious services in the area. Some have even expressed the need to arm themselves for protection.

The incident highlights the importance of taking additional measures to increase safety and should be used as an opportunity to shift our collective mindset to one that prioritizes a safety-focused approach, as well as a reminder to reassess safety plans.

The message here is that individuals should not resort to picking up a gun unless they are well-trained to do so. Instead, there are other ways to take responsibility for one’s own safety. The key is to be alert and aware of your surroundings.

If you see something, say something. By remaining vigilant and prepared, individuals can better handle unexpected incidents. While it’s impossible to predict when such incidents will occur, shifting one’s mindset to one of readiness can help individuals take appropriate action in an emergency.

In addition to personal responsibility, communities should consider additional safety measures for their organizations, synagogues and schools. It may be possible to add law enforcement to these locations, but it may not be sufficient. Therefore, leadership should take proactive measures to enhance its security measures as well.

Identify the attitudes that drive behavior and decision-making and work to change them. Identify and address current security practices as well as potential risks. Implement a security plan with a hands-on approach to ensure team preparedness. Seek the help of security experts to ensure adequate protection is in place.


Building confidence in safety in Jewish communities worldwide

Prioritizing safety entails building this culture of preparedness. Leadership for these organizations and communities must set the tone by emphasizing the importance of safety and encouraging open communication and collaboration among staff, members of the organizations and law enforcement. This will help identify potential risks and gaps in current safety protocols.

Incorporating frequent safety drills and training sessions and practicing them consistently together with the police or fire department, as well as other security agencies, can also go a long way in helping to shift the mindset. It will give the staff and the team hands-on experience and the confidence to respond in real-life crisis situations. This includes fire drills, lockdown drills and active shooter drills. The more the team practices, the better prepared they will be in the event of an actual emergency.


Fostering this culture of preparedness also has far-reaching benefits that extend beyond preventing tragedies. By taking on a safety-focused approach organizations can also build confidence, improve morale and increase trust in leadership.

Building resilience is making sure you know how to react during an incident and then recover quickly. This is especially important when events happen back-to-back in the same community.

Changing a mindset is not a one-time event but requires continuous reflection and growth. While having a plan is a great first step, it’s also important to continuously review and refine your approach to safety. This can be done through practicing what has been learned, regular evaluations, feedback from staff and members of the organization and incorporating best practices and lessons learned from other organizations and incidents.


It’s imperative to change our mindset to one that is ready to handle an emergency and focused on safety. By shifting our focus from complacent to proactive and prepared thinking, we can not only prevent future tragedies but also create a safer and more secure environment for all.


A version of this OP-ED appeared in the Jerusalem Post on March 2. https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-733113


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