Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not a gunman trying to break into our synagogues, community centers, day schools or the other places we gather, but it can be just as deadly.

Whether the threat is physical violence, or preventing the spread of a terrible disease, the Secure Community Network’s (SCN) mission is to protect the Jewish community. It is why all-threats, all-hazards planning and preparedness is at the core of our mission and every community security program we build.

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SCN has been working both internally and externally to reduce the impact this virus will have on our communities.

Since January, and well before the non-evident impacts of COVID-19 were identified in the United States, the team at SCN began closely monitoring the virus and its spread. We saw what was happening overseas and it alarmed us.

At that time, SCN initiated proactive communication with government and private partners, to include public health and medical professionals, on the emerging concerns related to COVID-19. A month later, when the CDC still assessed the risk as low, SCN was already acting.

Over the past several weeks we have:

  • Released vital safety and planning considerations for Jewish organizations
  • Developed a unique Quick Stat Report to track the spread of coronavirus and the closing of Jewish community organizations
  • Provided critical resources on cyber safety and security as organizations moved online and to telework
  • Issued guidance on how to prevent disruptions to online meetings, namely “zoombombing”
  • Convened the national network of Jewish security directors on regular bi-weekly check-in calls
  • Coordinated with law enforcement, security directors and other partners on threats against the community
  • Continued to provide training, assessments and security consultations online and via video conferencing to hundreds of institutions and thousands of members of our community

The Future

Even as COVID-19 took hold halfway around the world, SCN was monitoring troubling communications in online forums: from conspiracy theories blaming the Jewish community for the COVID-19 virus to encouraging its use as a bioweapon against the Jewish community.

From Islamists to white supremacists, we have identified individuals and groups seeking to exploit the current pandemic to incite anti-Semitism and encourage violence. SCN has and will continue to work with key law enforcement, public safety and non-profit partners to not only raise awareness of these issues but proactively seek to protect our community.

With many people facing precarious economic situations and continued disruptions in civil society, we anticipate that anti-Semitic messages and efforts to incite violence, as well as actual acts of violence, against our community may increase. SCN will continue to work to prepare our organizations, associations and communities for this reality, both in the short-term and when they seek to reopen.

We will continue to use our security expertise and experience to fight this pandemic, and its related effects. We will continue to work to ensure our community is as prepared and well-informed about this virus as possible. And we will continue to ensure that we are taking the necessary steps internally to remain healthy and safe so we may remain steadfast in our mission today, tomorrow and for the future.