Chaim Shapiro

JUST Armed Guards and Lockdown Drills for Prayer

I appreciate all of the feedback I have received from my colleagues about my post regarding the trauma the Jewish community is experiencing after the terror attack in Israel.

Many well-intentioned people did not understand the shock and trauma many Jews have been feeling over the past 12 days. I want to share a personal story to reiterate how close to home this hits for many of our colleagues in the Jewish community.

I paused on my way into Synagogue this past Shabbat. There were two counter-terrorism officers at the entrance with machine guns to protect the congregation.

My first thought was that I had never seen machine guns protecting a Synagogue before. Normally there are only regular armed guards.

It was only much later that I realized how disturbing that was. The need for armed protection for regular prayer is so normal for me that I didn’t even give it a second thought until I saw literal weapons of war employed to protect us.

My Synagogue has regular lockdown drills in the middle of solemn prayers to prepare us in case of an armed intruder. As crazy as that sounds, lockdown drills at a place of prayer are not remarkable to me either.

This past Shabbat, my Synagogue added a few prayers as a merit for the victims in Israel.

As a result, I was about 25 minutes late coming home (Orthodox Jews do not use phones on Shabbat).

When I got home, my wife was waiting at the door, terrified that something terrible had happened during prayers. At one point, she walked onto our driveway listening for sirens, but she couldn’t take comfort from the silence, because she wasn’t sure if emergency personnel would use sirens as opposed to staying silent in response to an attack at a Synagogue.

The fear Jews experience has always been real. It has been exacerbated by the scale of the horror and brutality of the attacks in Israel.

How sad is it that the reality we wish to return to is to ONLY need lockdown drills and armed guards with pistols to pray?

About the Author
Chaim Shapiro is the Executive Director of Undergraduate Career Services at Touro University, a freelance writer, public speaker, LinkedIn consultant and a Board Certified Coach specializing in career coaching Chaim was the Hillel Director at the University of California, Riverside between 1999-2003, fighting and advocating for Israel when the current anti-Israel campus campaign was in its infancy.