In January of 2022, Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville was attacked by an antisemitic terrorist. After being held hostage for around a terrifying eleven hours, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker decisively made a plan with the two other remaining hostages to formulate an escape plan. When the attacker was distracted, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker flung a chair at him and successfully bolted out the exits with the other three hostages. Even though the hostages were not physically harmed, the antisemitic attack remains horrifying.
When interviewed after the attack, the survivors credit their lives to both law enforcement and an organization, titled Secure Community Network.
According to the Secure Community Network’s mission statement, they are “the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America.” This non-profit organization has countless services, including training, exercises, and education regarding the safety of North American Jewish communities.
Prior to the synagogue attack, members of the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville had participated in the Secure Community Network’s seminars on safety.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker complimented this tremendous organization on CNN saying, “Those courses, that instruction, helped me to understand that you need to act in moments where your life is threatened…I would not have had the courage, I would not have had the know-how or (known) what to do without that instruction.”
Training from the Security Network provided Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker with the courage and knowledge of how to react during the synagogue attack, subsequently saving lives.
Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue’s board of trustees, posted on Facebook, “We weren’t released or freed. We escaped because we had training from the Secure Community Network on what to do in the event of an active shooter.”
Although many do not wish to face the harsh realities of the dangers of antisemitism worldwide, it is crucial to be aware and prepare oneselves, possibly through training programs like Secure Community Networks’, for the worst case scenarios.
Michael Masters, the Secure Community Network National (SCN) Director and CEO said to CNN, “Almost everywhere we have existed or sought to make a life, there have been those that have not wanted us there or not wanted us to exist,” and that the goal of SCN is “about preserving not just who we are as a Jewish people. It’s about also preserving, in my opinion, who we are as Americans and what our country stands for.”