Federation co-sponsors statewide forum on extremism

By Stephanie Goodling
HAKOL Editor

After the incident in Colleyville, Texas, in January when a rabbi and members of his congregation were taken hostage in their synagogue, Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley joined with other organizations to create a statewide virtual forum on rising extremism and hate. In ongoing efforts to secure the safety of Jewish communities, this day of learning was hosted by JFLV along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Secure Community Network (SCN) and the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition.

The all-day event consisted of a variety of presentations on topics including securing institutions, advocacy, accessing grants, empowering young people, cyberhate, and situational awareness.

The opening session was a “Zoomside chat” entitled “The Rise and Status of Hate and Extremism with SCN & ADL.”
Andrew Goretsky, regional director for ADL Philadelphia, introduced moderator Hope Comisky and panelists Brad Orsini of SCN and Oren Segal of ADL. Answering questions from the moderators and then from the audience, they emphasized the importance of combining intelligence and preparedness in preventing future tragedies.

“We have a group of analysts working 24/7 to collect intelligence,” said Orsini. “We’ve really learned that preparedness works. I know the Jewish communities in Pennsylvania understands they need to do these threat and vulnerability assessments.”

Segal added, “We're going to use every resource we can to keep the Jewish community safe. I work with partners to make sure that not only the Jewish community is safe but all communities are safe. Through both qualitative and quantitative research, we are tracking individual extremist movements, actors, campaigns, and messaging.”

Goretsky summed up what is needed to fight hate in an increasingly antisemitic world.

“It’s both hope and courage that will help us move forward,” he said.

To learn more about security training, contact Aaron Gorodzinksy at aaron@jflv.org.