The CBH Security Committee develops and recommends security policy, procedures and equipment and collaborates with the Executive Director to evaluate and maintain those efforts on an annual basis.

Message from the Security Committee February 2023

Dear CBH Partners,

In the spring of 2022, the CBH Security Committee distributed a community survey to illuminate the security perspectives of our Partnership. We received a very substantial response to the survey – 191 responses, to be exact.
We write today to follow up on the results of that survey and to acknowledge that the security climate has continued to intensify for Jewish institutions worldwide; events close to home have shown that Davis is not immune to an escalation of global antisemitism. The Security Committee has already had to make decisions both in preparing grant applications to receive government funds to increase the safety of our campus and to respond to current security concerns raised by staff and Partners.

This letter has two parts which will be followed by another more detailed communication in the future.

Part I summarizes the most important parts of what we learned from the 2022 survey and shares how the Security Committee is considering these results in decision-making.

Part II discusses supplemental information the Committee is using to make security plans.

Finally, a future communication will be forthcoming on more concrete next steps – the results of our recent work in securing grant funding for securing our campus into the future.

PART I — Describing and Interpreting the Results of the 2022 Survey
Our survey contained a list of questions intended to get information on the congregational level of alarm and to learn specifically which security concerns made people uncomfortable on campus.

In response to our initial general question, roughly 25% of respondents stated they had no special concern for their personal safety while on the CBH campus, more than 50% have some minor safety concerns, and at least 20% of respondents have serious concerns. Although most CBH Partners are not worried enough to avoid participation in events or services, a significant number of Partners are at least somewhat concerned. The Committee believes that reasonable recommendations that align with security “best practices” are warranted in helping all Partners to feel safer. We are already working towards these goals as you will learn in this letter and future ones.

The survey revealed a similar response to concerns about property crimes and vandalism. Fewer people were concerned that a vehicle might be used as a weapon against people on our campus, but since weaponized vehicles were mentioned in our Vulnerability Assessment, and since we can reduce the risk of weaponized vehicles injuring anyone on campus at virtually no cost (through government grants) using landscape boulders and strategically placed bollards, the Committee has decided to pursue this recommendation to install bollards and boulders.

With regard to targeted gun violence, the survey numbers reveal our deepest communal fear. Here, only about 20% are not concerned, about half are occasionally worried about armed assailants, and a quarter of respondents have elevated concerns. We know we must act, and have spent time considering how to approach the range of alternative security interventions. The actions we are planning will be across several categories of intervention including fencing, community trainings, and more robust securing of our buildings.

The installation of perimeter fencing and motorized vehicle gates has long been considered, but we understood not all Partners had the same attitude in striking a balance between security and maintaining a home-like and welcoming environment. The majority did not object to low fencing (about half of you somewhat or strongly support this compared to 15 who oppose it.) However, we know the federal and state security grants available to us will not pay for “low” or climbable fencing, and our commissioned Vulnerability Assessments do not recommend any climbable fencing.

The high fencing proposition produced different survey results. A bit fewer than half of all respondents opposed high fencing and gates, while the other half were neutral-to-positive about the proposition. The survey data on this single issue is probably the most thought-provoking question for the Committee. We have spoken to experts with the California Intelligence Agency and had two full-scale risk assessments undertaken for our campus over the past several years; a high, gated fence was the standout recommendation for addressing our security needs, while a low or climbable fence was discouraged. How do we balance the recommendations of security experts (and the not insignificant number of respondents who support a high fence) against the half of respondents who oppose it? More detail on this is to come in a subsequent communication, but a preview of our analysis supports incorporating high fencing and gates into a well-considered landscape that is designed to look natural and welcoming as opposed to “fenced in.”

A variety of door-locking and greeter training alternatives during services were addressed in the survey, but the results are not easily summarized for the purposes of this letter. Volunteer greeters have been considered a positive idea by our community, yet concerns remain about training volunteers properly and coordinating and recruiting the volunteer force. We would welcome a volunteer to organize a robust program, so if you may be interested, please contact Pia or Carol Darwish, chair of the Security Committee.

Finally, with regard to the hiring of security guards, an overwhelming majority somewhat or strongly supported our current practice of hiring armed guards for the High Holy Days and other high-attendance events. Respondents were divided on whether we should hire guards for regular use during school hours and services. There was a minority in favor of specifically armed security for all of these alternatives. (With regard to armed versus unarmed security, armed guards are 300-400% as costly as unarmed, and as of this writing our research has revealed a shortage of such contractors – they are simply in demand and not readily available to us for regular employment.)

After the survey went out, several regional antisemitic events in a row caused the contract security question to be revisited with more urgency. Last fall, the Board voted to fund an unarmed security guard on a regular basis to relieve the concerns of many including staff, clergy, preschool parents, etc. If you’d like more information about that decision, please reach out to Pia, our Executive Director, or a Board member.

PART II — Additional Information and Concerns
As mentioned, time has passed since the distribution of our survey early last year. Since then, we’ve seen an increase in antisemitic crimes and incidents in the United States and around the world. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), other Jewish organizations, and government agencies have documented this rise, and the Secure Community Network (the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America) reports that Jews are the targets of more than 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes despite being 2% of the U.S. population.

Further, these incidents are occurring in our home community in Davis and the Sacramento area. Recently, swastikas have been drawn on the UC Davis campus and in our high schools. Our elementary schools and junior high schools are also afflicted with antisemitic “incidents” of various types, as many of you have shared with us this school year. When regional White Nationalists chose our freeway overpass to drape banners with antisemitic messages, it further heightened the feeling of localized risk experienced by many of our Partners – Davis is not the refuge from intolerance we would like it to be.

More frequently each year, unhoused Davis residents use our campus and facilities for sleeping, toileting, and charging devices, creating sanitation and health problems and on several occasions causing Partners and staff to feel physically unsafe. We do not intend to dehumanize or stigmatize those experiencing homelessness, but acknowledge the strain on our limited staff; we have no bandwidth to add the duty to find social services for individuals or to clear doorways and play areas for students. Our staff and clergy are vital members of our community who are on campus for long hours, sometimes alone during the evening and early morning. Preschool parents whose children are on campus for extended periods also express their support for greater security presence.

In conclusion, the Security Committee has been engaging experts and learning about our security needs and the alternatives available for resolving them for some time. We believe the 2022 survey has provided valuable information to us and we thank everyone who took the time to participate in it. We also appreciate the concerns expressed by staff and others over the several months since the survey was completed. We are always open and available to receive additional information and input from Partners, parents, and staff.

Please stay tuned for further communication laying out more detailed plans for campus changes, and we hope to soon create a community meeting to gain further thoughts about our campus from our Partners.


The CBH Security Committee

Carol Darwish, Chair
Pia Spector, Executive Director
Elisabeth Dubin
Michael Bobell
Alan Brownstein
Maurice Hollman
Shmuel Nightingale
Shannah Whithaus
Jaime Ordonez

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