What's Happening in the GTA: An Update from UJA's Security Director

The rise of vicious, antisemitic violence south of the border—most recently in the New York City area—requires more than condolences and condemnations. It calls for concrete action to defend Jews from this dangerous trend.

Having dedicated my career to protecting Canadians—as a soldier, Defence Department counter-terrorism official, and security consultant—I know that the costs of providing security can be high. But the costs of failing to do so are even higher.

In 2019, UJA launched our Community Security initiative to take effective action to protect Jewish lives and the Jewish way of life in our city.

Here are five key elements of our work:

  1. Police coordination and incident support. We are in constant communication with senior police officials in Toronto and York Region, voicing our community’s concerns and sharing information. When we are notified of a security incident at one Jewish institution in our city, we instantly alert more than 130 Jewish facilities across the GTA and provide guidance on appropriate measures. Our security hotline (416-635-5600) enables community members to reach us 24/7.

  2. Training. Threat and awareness training, active threat (lockdown) training, and trauma first aid knowledge are crucial. We have already trained over 600 community members.

  3. Site Visits. Our team inspects synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish institutions to identify security gaps and offer practical solutions in terms of protocols, procedures, and physical security measures. So far, we have provided on-site support to more than 60 Jewish facilities.

  4. Patrols. At peak times, our team checks in to make sure security operations proceed smoothly at synagogues across the city. During the High Holidays this past year, we patrolled more than 50 locations.

  5. Volunteers. We are building a cohort of community members who donate their time to assist in security duties at their local synagogue or day school, similar to successful Jewish community security models around the world. A growing number of community members are joining us in this important work. We invite you to connect with us if you would like to be involved.

We provide these services 100% free-of-charge to the community. And this is just the beginning. We have much more planned for 2020.

Ryan Clow,
Director, Community Security,
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto