By Deb Silverthorn
The Dallas Jewish community watched with open hearts and open eyes as the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville brought the reality of terror to its core. The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Community Security Initiative (CSI), eight years in place, is expanding its training opportunities, after seeing an increase in site assessment requests and a greater understanding of its program.
“The antisemitism rates in Dallas County are at an all-time high. My parents survived the Holocaust, so safety, security and antisemitic threats have always been important to me,” said Sherry Goldberg, JFGD Community Security Initiative chair. “Our responsibility is to more than 60 stand-alone facilities and our community members. People are eager to know how to be safe.”
To continue making its efforts possible, an anonymous donor has come forward, matching each donation during the Community Security Initiative’s Dollar for Dollar Campaign, running through April 1, 2022. More than $160,000 has been raised so far.
“It’s making sure we have cameras and manned security, controlled access and unbreakable windows. That beyond the doors there is more still,” said Goldberg. “Whatever each location needs is what we want to help them realize.”
Bill Humphrey was recruited in 2019 by the Federation for a position he couldn’t refuse — director of community security — after he retired from the Dallas Police Department as a deputy chief. He immediately determined the Jewish community’s threat landscape and began implementing training and engaging law enforcement partners.
In Humphrey’s 37 years with the Dallas Police Department, he served in criminal investigations and intelligence, SWAT, dignitary protection, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Dallas Fusion Center. “During a great career I had opportunities to work with the Jewish community and now, in my ‘retirement,’ it’s an honor to be at the forefront of its safety,” he said.
Humphrey, now a member of the North Texas Crime Commission and the Police Executive Research Forum, says the events of Jan. 15, at Congregation Beth Israel, had his phone ringing off the hook.
“It’s a shame it takes a tragedy, which could have been so much worse, to wake people up,” said Humphrey, who regularly conducts site surveys throughout the community. “Fortunately, our position is being taken seriously and security is an understood priority.”
“Chief Humphrey works tirelessly educating our community to be vigilant and prepared to meet today’s threats and challenges, helping all agencies obtain security grants to protect places where Jews gather,” said Bill Finkelstein, chair of the JFGD. “Bill is dedicated to the safety of the Dallas Jewish community and we are fortunate to have him on our team.”
On Feb. 17, Humphrey led Situational Awareness and Run. Hide. Fight. training programs with more than 400 people online, an opportunity he also offers to individual institutions.
“We’ve been watching and listening to everything around us and, as we have for years at Anshai, we are proactive in the layers of training and security to keep us safe,” said Chris Cheniae, Congregation Anshai Torah’s executive director. “We couldn’t possibly have the access to what we do without the support of the Federation and we’re absolutely grateful.”
“Bill is pragmatic, level-headed and provides only the soundest of advice, keeping us on task to hopefully avoid any crisis. He is incredible,” said Cheniae; Anshai Torah shared the vital programs with its members earlier in February. “If there is an incident, we’re less likely to make rash and improperly reactive decisions.”
On Feb. 28, at Congregation Shearith Israel, CSI sponsored Ret. U.S. Secret Service Senior Special Agent Clarence Jorif in leading a Stop The Bleed training. A New York native who grew up near a concentrated Jewish neighborhood, Jorif was taught by his parents — Estanislaus and Winifred, of blessed memory — to live the way of the heart and be caring and loving to all people.
“My parents taught me to judge people by their heart and mind and to stand up to anyone who spoke with hate,” said Jorif, a Rockwall resident and reserve deputy with the Rockwall Sheriff’s office and Rockwall city councilmember. Before his retirement, Jorif’s more than 34 years of federal, county, local and military law enforcement service included 20 years with the Secret Service under presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and then-President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Stop The Bleed was established by the American College of Surgeons and the Department of Defense to address mass casualties, but Jorif says the training can be helpful in many situations.
“It doesn’t have to be a terror situation; you can be involved in a car accident or a kitchen accident or indeed in a terror situation,” he said, his focus on teaching participants to alert 911, to identify the bleed and to provide compression. “The life you save may be that of someone you love.”
The program, which requires hands-on participation, has other sessions being planned for the near future, hoping to reach further, geographically, into the growing Jewish community.
“We are appreciative of the Federation, their concern and the action they are taking to keep us safe,” said Chabad of Plano’s Rabbi Menachem Block, who looks forward to welcoming the communities of Chabad of Allen and McKinney, Chabad of Frisco, Chabad at Legacy West and Chabad Rockwall to a joint Situational Awareness training session this spring. “We take security very seriously and want to be prepared,” Block said.
Humphrey is scheduling active shooter table talk exercises, bringing organizational leadership together for specific training that is known to kick in when a crisis arises.
“Many of the survivors of Tree of Life, of Chabad of Poway and, now, of Congregation Beth Israel right here credited training they’d attended with saving their lives,” said Humphrey.
“Bill was fabulous in consulting us prior to our grand opening; he’s trained our whole team and he’s connected us so other security agencies are familiar with the Museum,” said Mary Pat Higgins, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum president and CEO. “We’re safer because the Federation supports us through Bill, his expertise and advice.”
In addition to its Community Security Dollar for Dollar campaign, to support recommendations made by Humphrey, as well as training, resources and other security measures, the Federation has hired a grant-writer to secure local, state and national grants.
The Federation’s CSI pushes out messaging to organizational leadership with details of potential threats of antisemitic activity. Each organization is then free to share that with their own constituents with whatever action, if any, should be taken.
“We’re meeting with rabbis and restaurant owners, with board chairs and staffers because these are issues that shouldn’t wait until … until ever,” said Goldberg, who sits on Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council. “Colleyville is just miles from here and we wish that day came and went without the experience but you can be sure it has awakened everyone in our community.”
Goldberg said she is grateful for the relationship she has with Humphrey, as well as the connection to local, state and national resources.
“That Saturday in January, Bill called me and in minutes we were on our way. He had already spoken to the FBI, to local police and we were always in the know,” said Goldberg, who, with her husband Ken and Humphrey, spent the day at Good Shepherd Catholic Community Church. “While we sat with clergy from every imaginable house of faith, there to support their neighbors, I was on the phone with the Dallas mayor and others, and Bill had police chiefs from all over the area letting us know they were patrolling our properties.”
Goldberg added, “We have to be ready for any crisis,” noting the Stop The Bleed and Situational Awareness and Run. Hide. Fight. programs that are offered each month. “We have to. The time is now.”
For information and training and event details of the Federation’s Community Security Initiative, or to make a donation, visit jewishdallas.org/security.