In July, the Touro Fraternal Association announced its intent to pay High Holy Days security costs for all Rhode Island synagogues, Chabad houses, and Hillel organizations. As of this writing, that offer has been accepted by 18 congregations across the state.
Touro’s chairman, Alan Lury, explained, “We contacted every single entity within the state by certified letter … and the vast majority of them got back to us … in most cases, we effectively are covering all of their High Holidays security costs.”
Andrew Lamchick, head of Touro’s Community Involvement Committee, said, “We are covering every institution that fell under this in Rhode Island. We had requests from Fall River temples, Attleboro, etc., but we couldn’t do everything.
“We wish we didn’t have to do it; we wish we could spend the money on something that was more lasting, but you have to protect people. Life is the most precious thing…in many cases we offered more than what was requested. We have a major responsibility to the Jewish community, and we take it very seriously,” Lamchick said.
Lury explained that “tens of thousands of dollars” for security were made available to Rhode Island’s congregations. He named the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and in Poway, California, as the catalyst for this initiative, citing a concern for the “safety of congregants across the state of Rhode Island…what we’re trying to do here is give the temples and synagogues some relief from having to be concerned, at least for these critical High Holy Days.”
Touro Fraternal Association, founded in 1918, is the largest independent Jewish fraternal order in the Northeast. They are headquartered in Cranston. The group will host an open house in October; for details visit tourofraternal.org or call 401-785-0066. The organization is not affiliated with Touro Synagogue.
MICHAEL SCHEMAILLE (email@example.com) writes for Jewish Rhode Island and the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.