Shalom Park was built 35 years ago to be an open park-like campus. No gates, no access control systems no concrete bollards and no buzzers to open the doors. It was meant to be a welcoming home to the Jewish community and for that matter, the entire Charlotte community.
The Foundation of Shalom Park has been improving its security protocols. Following several security threats in 2017, our security procedures were again strengthened and our spending was significantly exceeded. Today, we are again revisiting our security protocols in the aftermath of the October 27 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Each time we revisit our security procedures, we need to also revisit the balance between safety and security with the desire to be welcoming. We also need to consider what is possible within the confines of our existing budget.
“We understand that the Shalom Park community feels vulnerable. Everyone wants open access to all the wonderful programs, buildings and park spaces that the campus has to offer – it’s a tough dilemma,” says Jill Dinerman, chairperson of the Foundation of Shalom Park Security Committee.
Jewish leaders everywhere across the country are asking themselves – how do we strike the proper balance between protecting our community and creating a welcoming place? For the Jewish community, this debate is not new, but the Tree of Life Synagogue attack has brought the issue to the surface.
For many synagogues around the country having locked doors, law enforcement presence during services, a Director of Security, active shooter drills, and security committees will be new. But this is not the case at Shalom Park. To a large extent, these measures are already in place.
In October, the Foundation of Shalom Park received the maximum grant award, $150,000, from Department of Homeland Security for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program – for Urban Areas. Although this funding cannot be used for security guard or law enforcement costs, it can be used for security training and physical security enhancements.
The new Director of Safety and Security, Michael Philbeck, has plans to use the grant for physical security hardening, congregant training of both Temple Beth El and Temple Israel, Shalom Park incident response training and establishment of on- and off-site command centers.
“2019 will be the year of training,” he said at the Temple Israel Board of Directors meeting on November 6. Emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. The very nature of an emergency is unpredictable and can change in scope and impact. Being prepared and planning ahead is critical to protecting
lives, the environment, and property. The primary reason for the Foundation of Shalom Park’s focus on emergency and incident response training is to develop a higher level of preparedness.
The Foundation of Shalom Park has the responsibility for balancing the need to provide a secure and safe environment with the desire to create an open and welcoming atmosphere for the thousands of people who visit the park every day. Given the elevated threat level, they need to raise at least at $160,000 this year. They can only do this with your donation to the Security Campaign.
The Foundation of Shalom Park is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that owns and manages the properties and facilities for most of the organizations that are located on the central campus of Shalom Park, which includes: Temple Israel, Temple Beth El, the Levine Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, Jewish Family Services, Temple Israel Religious School, Temple Beth El Religious School, Consolidated High School of Jewish Studies, Charlotte Jewish Preschool, Charlotte Jewish Day School, Center for Jewish Education, Moishe House, Hebrew Cemetery Association, B’nai Brith Youth Organization, and the Charlotte Jewish News.
For more information, contact Terri Beattie, Executive Director, of Shalom Park