Chassidic Jews in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. Credit: Agsaz/Shutterstock.
By Mike Wagenheim
Hatred of Jews does not respect state lines.
On Tuesday, eight Jewish organizations in New York and New Jersey announced the formation of the Jewish Security Alliance, a partnership that coordinates regional resources and information to combat rising antisemitism in the greater New York metropolitan area and beyond.
During a press conference at the Anti-Defamation League’s headquarters in New York City, Evan Bernstein, CEO of Community Security Service, said the Jewish community cannot operate in silos.
“This type of working partnership makes our Jewish community safer,” he said. “When we communicate, share intelligence and work in coordination with law enforcement, everyone benefits. This needs to become the norm and not a one-off.”
The announcement comes in the aftermath of a series of violent antisemitic plots against synagogues in the New York area.
The region’s Jews suffered nearly 1,000 antisemitic incidents in 2022, according to an audit released last week by the ADL. New Jersey suffered the third most incidents of Jew-hatred in the country, according to the report. The new alliance covers about one-third of the American Jewish community.
At the press event, Scott Richmond, ADL regional director for New York and New Jersey, said the new group “grew naturally in the wake of a series of violent antisemitic plots,” which threatened Jewish organizations in New York and New Jersey.
“By signing today’s memorandum of understanding, we are making a formal declaration of a reality that has existed for some time, and it could not come at a more important time,” he said.
In addition to CSS and ADL, Community Security Initiative of New York, JFed Security and several Jewish Federations—the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland County, N.Y.; Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey; Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey; Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ; and the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon & Warren Counties—form the alliance.
‘This is an issue for our country’
Several of the speakers on March 28 noted that the organizations have worked together for some time and that the announcement turns a de jure arrangement into a de facto one.
Speakers noted the collective efforts, which delivered information to the New York Police Department last November that helped apprehend two men at Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. The two intended to follow through on social-media threats to shoot up a synagogue.
The alliance has four stated objectives. It aims to be a central hub for federal and local agencies on issues and incidents that affect the security of New York’s and New Jersey’s Jewish communities. It plans to provide reliable information on threats to Jews, as well as to accept incident reports from Jewish institutions and community members, and share those on an alliance-wide level and with law enforcement.
And finally, it will provide security recommendations and training for Jewish institutions.
The ADL has also said that it is assigning a new hate-crimes analyst to New Jersey.
“New York City is arguably the greatest Jewish city in the world, outside of Israel. It’s a center of Jewish learning, Jewish identity, Jewish cuisine. And that’s not just Jewish history. That’s American history,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the ADL. “It’s more than just an issue for our community. This is an issue for our country.”
Mitchell D. Silber, executive director of Community Security Initiative, said at the event that the alliance takes a page from the NYPD counterterrorism playbook. He noted previous attacks, like those on the World Trade Center in 1993 and against London’s subway system in 2015, were perpetrated by those living outside those cities.
“We’re partnering with organizations all around the periphery, and they’re going to pick up intelligence and information and have that flow in. Essentially, you’ll be able to share resources, intelligence and material outward,” said Silber.
He described alliance borders as traversing from Rockland County, north of New York City, down to the New Jersey-Maryland border, encompassing some 2 million Jewish residents.
“Hate has no understanding of boundaries. Crime has no understanding of boundaries—whether it’s a federation, an organization or a state border. So, these types of partnerships are force multipliers in keeping our community safe,” Robert Wilson, chief security officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, told JNS.
He added that “it’s critically important that the partnership that we’re forging today continues and we bring on additional partners as we move forward.”