On Nov. 27, in a packed room at the Bernard Horwich JCC, nearly a hundred members of Chicago’s Jewish community filled the hall for MAGEN Chicago’s Seminar on personal safety, titled “Ensuring your Personal Safety in Today’s Changing Environment.”
MAGEN Chicago organized and promoted the seminar, featuring 50th Ward Alderman Debra Silverstein, Commander Joseph Brennan of the 24th District Chicago Police Department, and Officers Michael Specht and Roger Heath of the Place of Worship Advisory Team (POWSAT), as well as Alison Pure-Slovin of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Alderman Silverstein and Commander Brennan addressed safety improvements being implemented in the 50th Ward. Topic also included the Home and Business Protection Program, which now offers rebates on security devices and cameras to local homes and businesses in areas around Chicago. Residents and business owners can also opt to have their cameras registered by the Chicago Police Department, who can then request consent to use the cameras in investigations.
The POWSAT officers addressed important safety issues in security and safety, especially for homes and children. A Lincolnwood Police Officer was also on hand to discuss the rise in thefts of catalytic converters. Rare metals within the converters have a high value, and skilled thieves can identify vehicles with the converters and remove them in under three minutes. The officer discussed how to protect your vehicle, and what to do in case you find the vehicle being robbed.
Alison Pure-Slovin of the Simon Weisenthal Center was also on hand to discuss current trends in antisemitism in America, including online vitriol and the growing acceptance of antisemitic conspiracies in mainstream culture. Leslie LeFranc from MAGEN Chicago and Matt Travers from StandStrong discussed the importance of situational awareness and promoted krav maga courses currently on offer for free to the community’s women, as well as children in select neighborhood schools.
“Knowledge is power,” said MAGEN Chicago President Chiam Naiditch. “The more you know about personal safety, the more you will adapt your daily routine to protect yourself, and the more people that adapt, the safer the community becomes as a whole.”
MAGEN Chicago, formerly known as CCL Shul Members, also used the seminar to introduce Chicagoans to their new name, which reflects their growing scope of engagement and goals. “When we started, we were concerned citizens, banding together to figure out how to make our Shuls safer,” said Avraham Hershkovich, Vice President. “But thank G-d we’ve come very far, and our name reflects that.”
Magen means shield, and the name more accurately describes the group, whose purview covers everything from Shul Safety Officer and Greeter Training to liaising with local Police Departments, security seminars, personal defense classes, Stop the Bleed and CPR/AED classes, CCTV cameras, community outreach, When In Doubt, Call It Out 911 campaign and even candle lighting PSA’s. “We’re grateful that we’ve been able to expand to help educate and train our community to stay safe,” Said Naiditch, “And now we hope we can truly be a shield to our community and its members.”
MAGEN Chicago is a grassroots organization founded in 2016 by local community members who are concerned for the safety of their community and extended Shul family. MC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organazation. Donations are tax-deductible, needed, and greatly appreciated. magenchicago.org
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