US group recruits young Jews to defend institutions amid rising anti-Semitism

“It’s critical that Jews, empowered on their own, start taking responsibility for their own security,” said Evan Bernstein, CEO of the Community Security Service.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Evan Bernstein, newly appointed CEO of the Community Security Service (CSS), has announced a significant expansion in the nonprofit organization’s efforts to train volunteers, especially young people, to protect Jewish institutions across the U.S.

“In Europe if you’re 18-23 for the most part, you go right into your Jewish communal security service,” Bernstein told the Jewish Insider in an interview last week.

“That is a very unique thing that in Europe has been a best practice for over 50 years. That is just not ingrained in the American culture. And that’s something that’s my goal,” he said.

He noted that in contrast to the European university system, many college students in the U.S. do not stay in their home communities while in school. “In America, we just don’t have that as a cultural norm in our Jewish community. I think that also has to change,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein hopes to partner with Jewish campus organizations to “develop a deeper bench of volunteers,” who will serve in communities around the country after graduating college.

In a press release issued last week, CSS said, “In order to meet the latest security demands of the Jewish community, and respond to the urgency of new manifestations of anti-Semitism, CSS has secured material first-time or increased grants from UJA-Federation of New York, The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Rowan Family Foundation, Jeffrey Talpins, The Price Family Foundation, and significant contributions from other anonymous individuals and foundations.”

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Edward Sugar, CSS board chairman, said, “We are ramping up our efforts to create a more robust operation that meets the latest security demands we see first-hand in our work with communal organizations.”

“With new resources, funding, leadership, and dedicated community members, we are now in a better position to push back against the rising tide of incidents singling out Jewish institutions and equip them with the critical tools needed to create secure environments,” he said.

Before being appointed as chief executive officer for CSS, Evan Bernstein served for seven years as the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director for New York and New Jersey. He responded to numerous anti-Semitic attacks, including the shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City in December 2019 and the stabbing attack at a Chanukah party in Monsey.

“I now realize how important it is that we as Jews start taking our own security more seriously than we ever have,” Bernstein said. “As great as law enforcement is — and they’re amazing — and as effective as private security can be, it’s critical that Jews, empowered on their own, start taking responsibility for their own security.”