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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

April 25, 2019 | 25 Nissan 5779

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Dear Chaverim,

Now that we are in the Passover period, we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the activities of Jewish Federation’s Community Security Advisory Committee and remind you of the need to keep security in mind.  

Jewish Federation's Director of Security, Daniel Heydenrych-Davis, has now been in his position for almost 18 months.  Over the past year, he has visited almost every community institution and worked closely with many to update their security audits, identify areas of risk, and assist them in applying for government funding. Several community organizations have already received their Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) grants and with Daniel’s assistance, a number of other organizations have submitted their applications.

In 2018, our committee set out several priorities in order to create a more security aware and security responsive community. These priorities have both shaped our direction as a committee as well as the focus of Daniel’s work.  These include:

Cultivating Relationships with Law Enforcement Agencies and Other Strategic Partners

Over the past year, Daniel has strengthened our relationships with municipal law enforcement, the RCMP, and allied services such as the Transit Police and Vancouver Coastal Health.  We saw the concrete benefits of these relationships following the tragic events at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.  Both the VPD and the Richmond RCMP were immediately in touch with Daniel and provided extensive support in the hours after first learning about those events and throughout the following week, culminating in their highly visible presence at many of our synagogues for the Solidarity Shabbat.

VPD has been working closely with several of our community agencies to oversee lockdown and evacuation drills. In June, as part of the Vancouver Police Board’s outreach to ethnic and faith-based communities, they will hold their regular meeting at the JCC.  As part of the meeting, they will be doing a presentation for community members on hate crimes.

Training and Educational Workshops for our Community Agencies

Training of our community professionals and volunteers continues. The week after the events in Pittsburgh, training sessions were held for front line staff and volunteers in Vancouver and Richmond on threat assessment and lock down procedures. Daniel was also on site at most of the day schools and synagogues in the days following Pittsburgh, to review their security procedures and to ensure that they were aware of and able to respond to any gaps in protocol.

In addition to community-wide training events, Daniel has provided organization specific training on situational awareness to interested groups of volunteers.

Building a Volunteer Network to Enhance Security Preparedness

This past fall, we began our recruitment of community members interested in becoming part of a volunteer security team. Two community-wide information meetings were held. As well, Daniel and members of the Community Security Advisory Committee met with Hillel, AEPi, and Beth Israel and Beth Tikvah synagogues about the initiative. We now have a cohort of interested individuals who will begin their training later this spring. If you or anyone you know is interested in getting security training, please contact Daniel.

It is also important to acknowledge the volunteer contributions of committee member, Eli Mann, and his team of highly skilled volunteers, who have been providing the important extra eyes and ears for a number of high profile community events held in the community this past year.

Developing Security Plans with Our Community Agencies for their High Profile Events

Daniel has kept extremely busy working with our community agencies to develop and oversee their security plans for high profile events. His expertise was demonstrated in security planning for events as diverse as Vancouver Hebrew Academy’s hosting of Ben Shapiro, Jewish Federation’s Choices event, and the recent visit of the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. As our security environment becomes more complex, having access to his knowledge and expertise is very valuable to community agencies. 

Daniel has also been offering his expertise to our agencies in the recruitment and selection of private security providers for individual institutions. He is available to work with organizations to determine the qualifications and experience needed from a security provider, and is able to mentor and oversee their work, if requested.

As we have seen with the tragic events in Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and most recently in Sri Lanka, communities of faith and places of worship are targeted even in places previously thought safe. It is a reminder to us about the importance of taking a proactive approach to security awareness and providing organizations and individuals with the tools to respond appropriately. Yet we can’t do this effectively without community support and interest. We have been heartened by the growing interest in our work over the past year. More organizations are reaching out, sharing information and seeking assistance. We welcome this interest and invite more of you to learn more and, where appropriate, participate in in our work.

We want to extend a special thanks to Jewish Federation’s donors, whose generosity is ensuring that we continue to make progress toward a more knowledgeable, and ultimately, more secure community.

Wishing you all a chag sameach v’kasher and an early Shabbat shalom,

Ezra S. Shanken 
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

Bernard Pinsky
Chair, Community Security Advisory Committee
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

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