(May 17, 2022, Skokie, IL, JNS Wire) Concerned Citizens League Shul Members (CCLSM) staged a large-scale active shooter simulation at Kehilat Chovevei Tzion in Skokie recently, with the direction and supervision of the Skokie Police and Fire Department. Hatzalah Chicago also attended this drill. Simulations for responding to hostile fights within the synagogue and keeping people of concern out of the building, recognizing and dealing with suspicious individuals, and two full-scale active shooter drills were all part of the five-hour training program. The training exercise was the Chicagoland area’s first large-scale Synagogue active shooter drill.
The event was put together for the CCLSM Shul Safety Officers. Their SSOs responded to known assailants, triaged and treated the injured, and worked with the Skokie Police and Fire Departments.
“This type of full-scale realistic scenario-based training is desperately needed,” stated Chiam Naiditch, president of CCL Shul Members. “With rising incidents of antisemitism in our area, true-to-life drills like these are invaluable for simulating real-time events and increasing our preparedness,” said Naiditch. “Our SSOs (Shul Safety Officers) already receive 60-plus hours a year of training in emergency medical, security, and safety needs.”
The event was hosted by Kehilat Chovevei Tzion in order to prepare its own members for the case of an active shooter. “We long for the day when these kinds of programs and enhanced security measures will no longer be necessary,” said Rabbi Shaanan Gelman, Rabbi of Kehilat Chovevei Tzion and President of the Chicago Rabbinical Council. “But for now, we believe that preparedness is the best way to prevent a disaster.” We are grateful to the CCL Shul Members, the Chicago/Skokie Police and Fire Departments, Hatzalah workers, and other professionals for taking the time to create this truly unique and vital program for the first time in our synagogue, and we encourage other synagogues and religious institutions to follow suit and conduct similar drills.”
Given the surge in antisemitism, Naiditch feels that every Shul should hold and participate in such an event. “All Shuls should get this type of practical training. We appreciate Kehilat Chovevei Tzion’s hosting this event and Steve Fagan, their VP of Security, for his assistance.”
Naiditch also complimented the Skokie Police and Fire Department. “They met with us several times and spent a significant amount of time preparing and organizing this training event.” He stated his case. “They were incredibly helpful and professional, and they genuinely wanted to assist and provide us with the necessary knowledge in dealing with these types of situations. We are very grateful to them.”
Avraham Hershkovich, Vice President of the CCLSM, was also present. He described the broadcast as a “wake-up call.” “We hope it will set the tone and momentum for other Shuls in our community to follow suit; this type of training can save lives.”
The active-shooter program is the culmination of SSO training, allowing Shul Safety Officers to practice strategies and skills they’ve learned in a real-world setting. Shul Safety Officers are currently in numerous Shuls throughout the Chicagoland area. In response to increased demand for this and other training, CCLSM has recently developed an additional program for unarmed greeters, the Shul Safety Greeter Program. This SSG Program will provide training on safety, security, medical crises, self-defense, de-escalation, and engagement with first responders to individuals who greet newcomers.
Visit cclshulmembers.org for additional information, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.