First person: The view from the Homeland Security Summit | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

First person: The view from the Homeland Security Summit 


Many of you have probably never heard of the Secure Community Network, but it’s an important Jewish community watchdog, and I was glad to represent our Jewish community at the Network’s Homeland Security Summit. 

The Secure Community Network is the official homeland security and safety initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America. Founded in 2004, under the auspices of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, SCN serves as the central organization dedicated exclusively to the safety and security of the American Jewish community, working across 146 federations, 50 partner organizations, over 300 independent communities as well as with other partners in the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors.  

The Secure Community Network hosted its annual Homeland Security summit in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 8-11. The summit was attended by 70 Jewish communal security directors from throughout North America.  SCN is an incredible partner and provides our community with a sophistication that is unmatched in the private sector. To see the growth of the national security program firsthand has been incredible. When I first came on in this role, I attended a conference that had 10 security directors. 

I attended in November with Don Haffner, security manager for Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

The conference was kicked off by Robert Contee, chief of police, DC Metro Police Department. Other keynote speakers at the conference included Christopher A. Ray, director, of the Federal Bureau of investigation who spoke on the threat environment facing the Jewish community nationally. On day two of the conference, Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for George W. Bush, spoke on  crisis communication. 

Over the course of the four-day conference, security directors heard from speakers and participated in workshops focusing on intelligence and information sharing, critical infrastructure protection, physical security, training, non-profit security grant programs and Project Rain, an intelligence platform provided by SCN and being piloted by Milwaukee Jewish Federation and 11 other cities. 

The conference also provided an opportunity for attendees to hear about and see some of the cutting-edge security technologies, specifically tools to make our communities institutions such as Jewish Community Centers, schools and synagogues much more resilient. 

The conference has always served as an opportunity for Jewish communal security directors to share best practices and work collaboratively to move the security acumen of the Jewish community forward. 

Speaking for both me and Don, it’s our privilege to bring home great ideas and best practices for our collective benefit.  

Ari Friedman is Director of Security & Community Properties for Milwaukee Jewish Federation. He works on security issues for the entire Jewish community, statewide.