Presidents Message- November 2019

The security of our temple has been a frequent topic of discussion in temple leadership for some time.  We want to be safe, and feel safe, so that we can experience our congregational home free of fear.  It has not been easy for the CBHT Board and Security Committee to make security plans for our temple.  I want to acknowledge the many hours of difficult work our security volunteers have been doing over the last months and years.  Much of this work is behind the scenes, and I hope you will join me in thanking them for their efforts.

There are many aspects that make any security plan we have challenging to create and to implement.  Like most other synagogues in North America, our parking lot and building were not designed to be hardened or to have strong barriers to access.  Such hardening of our building would also go against our mission to be a welcoming congregation.  The balancing of audacious hospitality on the one hand, with controlling access on the other hand, is not easy, especially when we so frequently have visitors who are new to us.  I believe that we are close to achieving the right balance.

We cannot help but constantly reexamine the effect our security measures have on how people feel at temple.  We are fortunate to be connected to national organizations, like the URJ, FBI, and local law enforcement, which provide us with expert advice on these issues.

Our laws and societal norms present challenges to any security plan we may have, and to how safe we feel at temple.  In the context of these laws and norms, the Board and Security Committee are carefully considering the risks and benefits of potential changes to our security policy.  We have implemented a variety of security measures, and any proposed change to any of these measures must be evaluated in the context of our overall policy.  Expect to hear more from the Board about this in the coming weeks and months.

We were all raised in a different world, where synagogue doors were unlocked and everyone was welcome with little or no scrutiny.  Security was a concern, but not a frequent topic of conversation in Board meetings.  One of our biggest challenges around security issues is to maintain our vigilance without fundamentally altering our spiritual practice.  I believe that we have been successful in doing this at our temple.  Our conversations about security will and must continue.

Tikkun Gottschalk,

CBHT President