Jewish Federations train communal leaders on how to de-escalate violent acts

The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, in partnership with Jewish Federations of Greater MetroWest and Northern NJ, presented H.A.R.M. (hostility, anger, and rage management) training for Jewish communal leaders on how to recognize, deter, and de-escalate hostile or violent acts directed at their organizations, people and facilities.

The web-based training was attended by approximately 250 participants on July 28, including presidents and board members, rabbis, security directors, executive directors, administrators, education directors, and others from synagogues and Jewish schools, cultural centers, and community centers in more than ten counties throughout New Jersey – as well as local, state and federal law enforcement professionals, and Jewish Federation security directors from across the country, according to a prepared statement.

Steven Crimando, an internationally known consultant and educator specializing in behavioral science applications in crisis management and emergency response, provided instruction in:

  • Recognizing and defusing acute anxiety, anger, and hostility
  • Pre-incident risk indicators of lone actor and homegrown violent extremists
  • Understanding hostile approach behaviors
  • Applying a three-step model to the management of fear and anxiety
  • Verbal and non-verbal de-escalation techniques
  • De-escalating groups and crowds

In a special address, Jared M. Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, expressed appreciation for Jewish Federations’ partnership in collective leadership securing our state not just through target hardening, but equally through education and training. Among his remarks, Maples emphasized New Jersey’s whole-state approach to transparency – tracking threats; calling them out; and sharing information between the public and private sector, religious organizations, and industry groups – to understand the nature of threats and more effectively dealing with them. He explained New Jersey is the only state to label white supremacy a top terror threat along with homegrown violent extremists, according to the statement.

Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ and its partner Federations work closely with Maples and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, as well as other law enforcement and public safety bodies, on a routine basis, to empower the Jewish and broader faith community amid rising anti-Semitism, bias incidents, and security threats, according to the statement.

“Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey has recently brought more than a dozen security workshops to Jewish communal leaders as well as individual community members to make Jewish life in Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties stronger and safer,” said Amy Keller, director of Security Initiatives at Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, according to the statement. Keller was joined by fellow security directors, Bob Wilson of Greater MetroWest and Jerry Dargan of Northern New Jersey, in producing and hosting the H.A.R.M. training.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, as bias incidents increased, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey joined other Federations across the state and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to connect Jewish organizations with guidance on bias incident awareness, facilitated by the U.S. Department of Justice. It featured presenters from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of NJ; NJ Office of the Attorney General, NJ Division of Criminal Justice; NJ Division on Civil Rights, NJ State Police; and NJ Bias Crime Officers Association.

Throughout the pandemic, Federation has directly consulted with Jewish organizations and provided them with access to regionally- and nationally-recognized experts on topics ranging from cybersecurity required for virtual operations and security measures for unoccupied buildings to guidelines on applying for government security grants and considerations for returning to on-site operations, according to the statement.

The work relating to security grants yielded another $1 million in government funds being awarded to Jewish organizations in Monmouth and Greater Middlesex – bringing the five-year total for the heart of New Jersey to $5 million for security enhancements.

“Empowering our Jewish community amid rising anti-Semitism and security threats is central to Jewish Federation’s role,” said Susan Antman, executive director of Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, in the statement. “Our security initiatives, Security Task Force, and partnerships with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and many other public, private, and faith-based bodies help make our community stronger, safer, more supportive, and sustainable for all.”

For more information, contact Keller at amyk@jewishheartnj.org and access additional resources from the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness at NJOHSP.org.