In a Chicago office, reports from around the U.S. of gunshots, bomb threats and menacing antisemitic posts flash across more than a dozen screens. A half-dozen analysts with backgrounds in the military or private intelligence watch them, ready to alert any thousands of synagogues, community centers or day schools that appear to be at risk. This is the headquarters of the Secure Community Network, the closest thing to a security agency for U.S. The group was created by the Jewish Federations of North America after 9/11. It has grown exponentially over the past five years, from an office with a staff of five to a national organization with 75 employees around the country, reports the New York Times. Its expansion was the murder of 11 worshipers from three congregations by a hate-spouting gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018, the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history.
The trial for the gunman is set to begin on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The White House last week announced a national strategy to counter antisemitism, involving multiple agencies and focusing on training and prevention. The Pittsburgh shooting was followed by an ambitious effort to protect Jewish life, bringing in more than $100 million dollars in federal grants to local Jewish organization and $62 million raised by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) to help secure “every single Jewish community” on the continent. There are now 93 Jewish federations with full-time security directors, a more than fourfold increase over five years. Overseeing much of this operation is the Secure Community Network. The group’s senior national security adviser is Bradley Orsini, a former FBI agent. In October 2018, he was the security director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “The worst day of my professional career,” Orsini said. He had been in charge of preparing the community for calamity, and it happened. Had synagogue goers not been taught the basic tactics of active-shooter response, the horror at Tree of Life would have been even worse.