RS Security Update 10/2023

I am grateful for this opportunity to share with you some key aspects of our intentional security procedures to provide safety while being inclusive for marginalized identities.

First, please know that, while there are high levels of concern, there are no new, specific, or credible threats directed at Rodeph Shalom, other Jewish organizations, schools, or daycare centers in the region at the time of publication.
We maintain close and active ties with law enforcement and homeland security organizations. This includes, local, state, regional, and Federal law enforcement agencies. Rodeph Shalom, as well as our security partners receive constant updates on possible risks and threats in the local and regional environment. We work closely with them based on the contents of those updates. We regularly participate in security briefings by government security agencies on how the situation in Israel may affect Jewish organizations in our region and mitigation steps to consider.

Rodeph Shalom has a close relationship with the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD). Armed police officers are at Rodeph Shalom during services and high profile events, in addition to our security team, which includes members of law enforcement. The police response time, in case of a dangerous situation here, is between one to two minutes. We maintain direct communications with PPD leadership to increase the depth and breadth of our interactions and coordination. As a result, PPD officers frequently drive by or remain near our building on a daily basis.

We receive briefings, intelligence, and security advice from the Jewish Federation, which is regularly updated by FBI, State Police, Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies. We receive regular security updates from multiple sources including the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, the regional Homeland Security fusion center. The PPD provides specific warnings if they have information that could affect us directly, including nearby police activity. These channels help us to be informed on possible threats and countermeasures in real time.

Our building has added security features which, combined with our security procedures, provide multiple layers of protection that are not made public. There are both active and passive measures for security, much of it funded by significant State and Federal security grants. On the personnel side, in addition to the guard at the front desk, a security role is performed by additional staff members. We regularly conduct security training and drills, as well as fire drills, to help staff be better prepared to handle emergencies. We are grateful to Renee Carl, Director of Operations, for her essential work and dedication to safety.

One of the most important protections is for everyone to remain vigilant, aware of their surroundings, be proactive in protecting our people and facility, and to fully cooperate with important security measures. This includes not allowing “tailgating” through external doors or holding the door for strangers to enter, never sharing access codes and shielding the keypad when entering a code, reporting suspicious or unusual conditions immediately to our security staff, and helping to keep the building secure.

A great example of the power of “See Something, Say Something,” took place in late October when an observant parent immediately reported suspicious activity outside of our building. As a result, we have been able to provide detailed information to law enforcement, Federation, and other security partners for further investigation. We have reviewed our security procedures, as we do whenever there is new information, and have increased vigilance. PPD has provided added patrols and presence on site. I ask everyone to help us all with continued awareness and reporting of unusual conditions.

I hope this provides you with additional perspective and reassurance.


Jeff Katz,
Executive Director