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Kavod Community Safety Shavuot Session - Resource Sheet
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Shavuot 5779/2019 Community Safety Session

By the Kavod Community Safety Team

This document covers the main points we discussed during our session and provides resources that offer context for the work we’re doing. We would love to continue learning together with you and your community. Contact us at for more information.

#1: Our stake in reducing reliance on the police + law enforcement, and investing in alternative, community safety practices and strategies is as follows:

  1. The presence of police + law enforcement in our spaces is harmful, often escalating rather than de-escalating situations, and presenting heightened risk for members of our communities, especially Jews of color and non-Jewish people of color, Jews with disabilites, along with trans and gender non-conforming Jews.
  1. As a Black Jew, I’m Begging You: Don’t Arm Your Synagogue by Nylah Burton, Hey Alma
  2. Synagogue Security After Squirrel Hill by Jonah S. Boyarin, Jewish Currents
  3. Yes, Black America fears the police: Here’s Why by Nikole Hannah-Jones, PS Mag 
  4. A Startling Look at How Cops Mistreat Trans People by Dianne Tourjee, Vice
  5. Shining a spotlight on mental health & police shootings by Chelsea Davis/Leah Pope, Vera
  1. Police + law enforcement deter justice issues and campaigns our communities care deeply about, especially those related to immigration, incarceration, housing and poverty.
  1. What a Boston Student’s Deportation Reveals About School Police & Gang Intelligence by Shannon Dooling, WBUR
  2. The Criminalization of Homelessness: Explained by Bidish Sarma and Jessica Brand, The Appeal
  3. The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods by Abdallah Fayyad, The Atlantic
  1. Armed police presence in violent situations has proved to be ineffective through academic research. There are other security measures that have proven to be more effective, such as locked doors, controlled entry and situational awareness training.  
  1. Research on the efficacy of armed guards during single shooter scenarios by Lila Hanft, Evernote
  2. Poll: most Americans say gun ownership increases safety. Research: nope. By German Lopez, Vox 

#2: The Kavod Community Safety Team is building alternative systems and practices in the following ways:

  1. Building trust and resilience amongst our community members, and engaging with the diverse needs of our community, to prepare for lower-risk situations, such as verbal disruptions, mental health crises, and alarms going off, before making decisions about higher-risk, lethal situations.
  2. Developing detailed community safety plans by identifying possible safety/security scenarios and workshopping how we would respond to each of them. For example, at the annual Gragger Purim Party (a partnership with the Boston Workers Circle, with over 200+ attendees), a team of ten safety volunteers identified four possible/realistic situations and strategies to de-escalate each of those.
  3. Strengthening the foundation for a local network of partner organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, that show up for each other in meeting safety and security needs, while learning with other organizations and networks nationally. For example, Kavod co-led de-escalation trainings for 40+ people across faith communities who then participated in community safety teams for eight high holiday services across two congregations and joined an emerging Boston Community Safety Network.
  4. Mapping skills, expertise and resources in our community related to safety/security to identify strengths and unmet needs that can be supported by trainings and consultations.
  5. Proactively discussing our choices and boundaries related to calling 911/police in high-risk situations to ensure that choices made in the heat of the moment reflect our communal values and principles, and are made with an awareness of the associated risks.

Additional Resources:

  1. How Safe is your Place of Worship by Christopher Sheitle and Jeffrey Ulmer, Religious News 
  2. Community Safety Pledge: A resource created by Jews for Racial Economic Justice (JFREJ), Kavod and other progressive Jewish organizations to support communities in taking on community safety work.
  3. Vision Change Win: A team of experienced social justice consultants who support organizations in fully manifesting their missions and values (e.g. developing safety plans & risk assessments).
  4. My Diversified Security: A Black-led security company that has worked with several progressive organizations.
  5. FBI warned of white supremacists in law enforcement 10 years ago. Has anything changed? By Kenya Downs, PBS
  6. Cops Across The US Have Been Exposed Posting Racist And Violent Things On Facebook. Here's The Proof. By Emily Hoerner and Rick Tulsky, Buzzfeed News