By now, nearly everyone will have learned that the FBI has arrested several white supremacist suspects who were allegedly plotting to attack churches and synagogues in the Richmond area. Before anything else is said, we must acknowledge the FBI and every one of the law enforcement agencies involved in protecting our community. The Jewish community expresses its gratitude to the brave women and men who fill their ranks and appreciates their service to our community, our Commonwealth and our Nation. We enjoy the blessings of safety and freedom in large part thanks to their selfless dedication.
Part of my role is the coordination of security issues within the community. That means I liaise with the FBI, State and local police and the Jewish community. In the months I’ve been here, I’ve met with the FBI, and police forces in Richmond City, Henrico County, Petersburg, and the VA Capitol Police. Other meetings are still to come. I am writing for two reasons.
First, as a community we must strengthen our bond with our law enforcement agencies. They eagerly look to the citizens they serve and protect for engagement. Our Jewish values teach us that we owe it both to ourselves and to the broader community of which we are a part to engage. There are civilian academies and community officers ready and willing to work with us. Anyone who is looking for ways to do that is encouraged to contact me.
Second, we play a major part in keeping our community safe. The impact of my meetings will remain limited if we don’t all, as individuals, work together. While I am working with our agencies and synagogues on an institutional level, I urge you to take these words to heart: “If You See Something, Say Something.” There is no need for panic nor alarm, yet vigilance is appropriate. As members of the community you are the eyes and ears that could see or hear something long before it becomes dangerous. If something looks out of place, say something. If someone looks questionable, speak up. Our shared watchfulness protects us. Say hello to someone new. Welcome newcomers to your synagogue, agency or neighborhood; always greet stranger with smiles. Overwhelmingly, the people in our nation are good, friendly folks. And if you happen to discover that something feels off, make the call. Again, if you’re interested in learning more, please be in touch.
Together we are much stronger than sum of our parts. The more we organize, share, discuss and prepare the stronger, safer and healthier we will all be. I look forward to your eager engagement in synagogue committees, in our agencies and in our neighborhoods.
I welcome you to reaching out to me at DFogel@JewishRichmond.org.