Security is Critical Issue

Aug. 16 is a date I won’t soon forget. That evening, I learned of a threat to the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, and our entire Jewish community by extension.

As you likely know by now, a post was discovered on Instagram by someone with the Instagram name ira_seamus, who was later identified as James Patrick Reardon. The post contained a video of a man shooting what appeared to be a firearm with the capability of discharging multiple rounds in a short time span. The caption of the post states, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.”

Security is an issue we have always taken seriously. We don’t take lightly the need to ensure the safety of all members of the local Jewish community, as well as everyone who is part of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation and its agencies. Over the last couple of years, we have made investing in security for the Gypsy Lane campus, the Logan Campus, and the area synagogues a priority. In this situation, we were able to immediately add additional security personnel on our campus and at the area synagogues.

We know, however, that this is an evolving need. We will continue to assess our security needs going forward, and as situations warrant. We have a good system in place, a system that worked just as we hoped it would when we needed. When a law enforcement colleague told Rob Elston, Federation security director, about the threat he immediately contacted the JCC Director Mike Rawl and JCRC Director Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, as well as the Youngstown and Liberty police departments and the FBI. We have a good relationship with local law enforcement, and I am grateful for their quick response to this situation. We will continue to offer trainings for our staff and for the staff and congregants of the area synagogues.

I’m humbled by the number of people who have reached out to offer their support. Collectively, we have heard from elected officials, colleagues in other communities, and friends near and far. It’s touching how many people reached out.

Many have asked how they can contribute to security. In response, we opened a mailbox called the Strong & Secure Community Fund. The money will be used to support security at the Federation, its agencies, and the area temples. Visit our website ( to donate.

I am so proud of our staff who worked tirelessly to respond to this situation. It was a team effort, but I’d like to particularly thank Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Rob Elston, Mike Rawl, and Elise Skolnick who put in many extra hours during this time, and will continue to do so in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

You are the eyes and ears of the community. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, please report it. Together, we can make a difference. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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