Balancing Security and Service: Welcome to 2019

The world, we will all agree, is in constant change. I'd like to focus on one of those changes; and one that is not pleasant. We are in 2019 - and our world today is fraught with violence, terrorism, hate and plain sociopaths.

In such an environment, one of the problems that arises is: how do you keep an open door, friendly welcome policy, while also screening for possible dangers?. It is not an easy balance; it is maybe an impossible balalnce...

Picture this scenario: You call for a meeting, open to the general community, with a speaker. It is in your facility, and the speaker talks about Israel. What do you do?

Anything related to Israel has become, these days, "controversial"; it also elicits the most extreme responses because people feel strongly about it. In some cases, anti-Israel positions also mask antisemitism which takes an anti Israel form because it is perceived to be more "politically correct". How do you screen those coming in? Should you keep the program "by invitation only" to control the audience? Should you have security checks at the door? Metal detectors? Let's look at these options one by one...

Metal detectors are definitely preceived as a deterrent but also as an obstacle for people to come in. If you go to a program and you need to go through a metal detector to go in... would you go in? and if you do go in... wouldn't you think twice next time you are invited?

If you have a program "by invitation only", you are pretty much accepting that you will continue to bring in the same people again and again, with the occassional addition to the group every now and then. But by and large, you are limiting your ability to use your programs for recruitment.

So how do you screen people coming in? One time-honored way is to have somebody in front who knows the community and the people, who can identify most of the people coming in. And those who cannot be identified, might be people you want to engage in a short conversation to get a sense of who they are... Not bullet-proofed, but the best option available.

I remember growing up in a community where Jewish organizations were open most of the day with something going on, with a policy of open doors. And if there were occassional problem, they were few and far between. Things have changed. Life has changed. Welcome to 2019!

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I do not see submitting to metal detectors as a problem. It has become a normal part of our lives. Even going to the symphony requires screening, and of course flying has required it for many years. It is sad that we live in such times, but much better safe than sorry or dead.

Steve Nathan