Impact Stories:

Federation Security Investment: Getting to a Safe Place

A small blue box signifies a world of progress.

To the community that is going through a trial of the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history, the blue box brings comfort. At the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the progress that the box represents results from the impact of your support.

Jewish Federation was critical in installing the highly visible blue boxes and less-obvious, site-specific community security improvements, such as fencing and facility changes. The Federation’s director of community security performed site assessments, which determined what improvements each site needed. Federation-supplied grant-writing support resulted in $3.8 million in 2019-20, which helped pay for the improvements.

Alert systems and fences provide critical security barriers, but they represent only one facet of safety that the Jewish Federation provides. Lisa Rothstein, executive director of Adat Shalom Synagogue, Cheswick, emphasizes the importance of security training: “You have to know your building, and you have to practice emergency response,” she says. “You can’t be overtrained.”

Since 2017, the Federation has provided free risk assessments and security trainings available to any organization that asks. Programs such as the Federation’s Countering Active Threat Training (CATT) provide community members with the necessary skills to de-escalate situations, respond to active threats and much more. Additionally, we worked to keep people safe through $3.3+ million in security grants since 2020 from state and federal sources

“The trainings teach situational awareness. Unfortunately, you must have that everywhere you go; it’s not just for synagogues.”

~Lisa Rothstein, executive director of Adat Shalom Synagogue

Understanding the need for situational awareness, Rothstein appreciates the weekly security newsletter from the Federation; the “See Something, Say Something” tool to report threats; and how the Federation helped her “develop a great relationship with township law enforcement.”

Rothstein also appreciates the “Go Bag” backpacks that the Federation placed in every classroom in each Jewish day school and Early Childhood Education program. Each pack contains first-aid and emergency supplies. Federation training, Rothstein stresses, “Makes sure you know how to use them.”

The Federation initiated its current security drive following a 35% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2016. In considering security progress since 2017, Rothstein reflects, “When you look at what’s available now and what we didn’t have before, [it all contributes to being able] to get to a safe place.”

Because of an active Federation and an involved, increasingly trained community, Jewish Pittsburgh’s safe place grows larger every day. Providing the tools needed for the community is no easy task, and it is all made possible through your support.

To report antisemitic acts or threats in Jewish Pittsburgh, visit
Visit to learn about security training and resources.

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