Dear Friends and Fellow Congregants,
It is with great sadness that I write this in the face of the horrible tragic violence in Israel this past Shabbat. Many of our community in Bristol have family and friends in Israel and many are inevitably connected in so many ways to people in Israel, as of course we as a whole community are intrinsically connected. We therefore feel the pain and the loss of those in Israel, those in our community here, and the pain felt throughout the world.
Our synagogue will of course continue to function and our community will continue to come together. We are speaking regularly with the local Police in Bristol, and they are putting on additional patrols, closely monitoring our synagogue and local area. In addition, it is important that you know, along with CST we have installed a new CCTV and camera system that is connected to CST, monitoring the system 24/7.
CST have written to make sure we keep to our security measures, and I ask that you adhere to the following, as we usually try to do (but are typically sometimes a bit lax):
- Keep the front gate closed at all times, and make sure to close it quickly when it is opened, e.g. for letting congregants in.
- Be alert for suspicious people loitering and activities, including cars driving suspiciously slowly, and unattended items around the synagogue.
- Engage with and challenge (if it is safe to do so) and report suspicious people. You can speak to any Member of the BHC Council who happens to be on the premises.
- Avoid congregating outside the synagogue: please disperse quickly after leaving.
- Prevent ‘tailgating’ – someone following close behind and attempting to gain access to the building when gates or doors are opened.
- When opening the gate to unfamiliar people, please make sure to ask them (always tactfully and politely) some basic security questions, e.g. who they are, where they come from, how do they know about our synagogue, etc.
- When inside the main prayer hall (downstairs) or the Frank Cohen Hall, keep a close eye on the CCTV screens and be alert to images of people hanging around at the entrance to the synagogue or approaching it in a suspicious manner.
As the institutions and authorities, and of course people, in Israel seek to come to terms with what has happened and deal with the ongoing situation, let us continue to hope and pray for peace in the Land. I hope that all of you in Bristol who have friends and family in Israel have been reassured as to their safety, and wish you all
David Turns (Hon. President, Bristol Hebrew Congregation)