Baltimore, October 31, 2023
On Sunday evening, October 22nd, The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra partnered with The Secure Community Network (SCN and Shomrim of Baltimore for an informative lecture at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion to help us empower ourselves and protect our shuls, schools, and community. The Secure Community Network is the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America. Mr. Frank Storch, Director of The Chesed Fund & Project Ezra, dedicated the evening to the yahrtzeit of his beloved mother, Mrs. Hannah Storch, a”h, a true pillar of the Baltimore community. The evening included an enlightening presentation by Mr. Eddy Azcárate, the Deputy Regional Security Advisor of the National Capital Region. He warmly engaged the crowd and utilized his decades of knowledge and experience as a retired Marine, police officer, martial arts expert, and security professional at SCN.
Mr. Azcárate shared about how it was important for everyone to first recognize their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and limitations and then to “Commit to Action.” Whether the action is to call 911, throw a chair at an assailant, or just be aware of who has medical training and asking them for help, every action helps. He discussed important factors such as different levels of situational awareness and the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), a military exercise used to make the best and most appropriate decisions. He mentioned some basic and simple security solutions such as locking doors, strengthening door jambs, increased lighting, safety film, alarms, and panic buttons as well as more involved methods such as tabletop exercises that simulate scenarios and how to respond to them. He presented different landscaping solutions and the use of the approach of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
Mr. Azcárate recommended reviewing current security protocols and plans and tweaking them if necessary. He suggested that if there are no morning and evening routine procedures in place to confirm everything is locked and secure, develop them now and make sure to enforce and maintain them. These methods could be utilized in a school, shul, and even in a person’s home. He spoke about the Run, Hide, Fight approach as the response to an active shooter and how to determine the best course of action. He ended his presentation with the critical need to report any security incidents to SCN through 844-SCN-Desk or at https://www.securecommunitynetwork.org/incidentreporting. His comprehensive presentation was invaluable and touched on a variety of important issues that should consistently be considered and reviewed.
Mr. Nathan Wilner of Shomrim then spoke about the ongoing crime situation in Baltimore as well as the current 300% increase in antisemitism. He mentioned the important community responsibility to report anything or anyone suspicious. He reminded the crowd of the importance not to walk alone at night. He also pointed out how much of what Mr. Azcárate presented, we actually may already know intuitively but are important reminders of ways to empower ourselves. Mr. Wilner shared Rabbi Hopfer’s letter instructing the community that on Shabbos and Yom Tov if there is a situation of sakanos nafashos, you must contact 911 and Shomrim immediately. Mr. Storch then concluded the evening with often-forgotten security measures we should take to keep ourselves and our families safe when traveling and stopping at rest stops. The presentation was recorded and is available for viewing at chesedfund.com.
For more information on other Chesed Fund & Project Ezra events and literature, visit chesedfund.com.