October 2020 -- Tishrei- Cheshvan 5781,  Volume 26, Issue 10

c2020 Shoreline Publishing, Inc.      629 Fifth Avenue, Suite 213, Pelham, NY 10803      P: 914-738-7869      hp@shorelinepub.com

Hayes Presents Security Guide for Faith-Based Institutions

By Stephen E. Lipken


In light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Bill Hayes, Westchester/Bronx Security Manager of Community Service Initiative (CSI) presented a virtual Re-Opening Guide for Westchester Faith-Based Institutions on Tuesday, September 15th.


CSI is a joint project of UJA, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Westchester Jewish Council (WJC). Evan Bernstein serves as CEO. CSI’s goal is to improve the physical security of institutions, providing staff training, threat intelligence, assisting with assessments and grant applications, and supplying real-time communications that links Jewish institutions in our region as part of an Emergency Communications System.


Hayes began by advocating Building Reopening Teams. “Form a team,” Hayes said.

“Team members should cover relevant areas of expertise.  Consider facility management, legal, medical, human resources, insurance…Designate people for specific and ongoing responsibilities.


“Make sure that seating is appropriately spaced.  Use plexiglass shield between clergy and congregation, provide for adequate aisles…Review your reopening steps with your insurer and legal counsel.


“Plan for any required symptom checking, health questionnaires or attendance record keeping.  Plan response to possible infected person in facility.  Appoint designated COVID-19 coordinators.  Be prepared to report infection to NY Public Health Office and assist in contact tracing.


“Control entry.  Limit entry points.  All attendees should be screened,” Hayes stressed.

Hayes emphasizes that singing should be restricted to Cantor or celebrant, with 12-foot minimum spacing.  Because singing, chanting and public speaking can lead to greater spread of  COVID-19, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, New York State Health Commissioner, suggests that all officiants be tested as close to the holidays as possible and self-isolate as much as possible.


David Pollack, JCRC Associate Director of Public Policy and Security averred that humming is better than singing.


Regarding traditional communal activities, services should be held outside if possible, capped at 50 participants, as far away from others as possible.