Chicago community rabbis listening to Gary Schenkel, executive director, Office of Emergency Management and Communications, City of Chicago.

Chicago community rabbis listening to Gary Schenkel, executive director, Office of Emergency Management and Communications, City of Chicago.

More than fifty Chicago-area rabbis gathered in Skokie last Thursday to attend a security conference organized by Agudath Israel’s Midwest Council of Synagogue Rabbis in partnership with the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Emceed by¬†Agudath Israel’s¬†Rabbi Yaakov Robinson, the event featured¬†presentations from high-ranking representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, the Chicago Police and the Secure Community Network.

The presentations included a general report about the current security situation in Chicago, practical guidance on how to make synagogues more secure, and finally, how and with whom to communicate regarding actual threats and suspicious behavior in and around the community. The presentations were follower by a lengthy question and answer session. A recurring message brought up by all of the panelist was the importance of implementing a plan to make each institution more secure and a second plan in case of an actual incident, G-d forbid. A Rabbinic Committee was formed to oversee all synagogue-related security matters in Chicago, including issues related to Jewish law.

Agudath Israel expresses its gratitude to Michael Masters (executive director, Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management), Gary Schenkel (executive director, City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications),  Commander Thomas Waldera (Chicago Police Department, 24th District),  Captain Thomas Karnick (Chicago Police Department, 17th District), Mark Genatempo, (program administrator, Secure Community Network), Oscar Torres, (Training Staff, City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications), Alderman Debra Silverstein, the City of Chicago Chief of Police, and Rabbi Moshe Wolf the Chaplain for the City of Chicago Police Department, for their genuine concern for the welfare of the Jewish community and for taking time out of their very busy schedules to be part of this conference.