DEL MAR, Calif. — The Jewish Federation of San Diego is introducing its newest member to the community, a security director, in response to the rise of anti-Jewish hate crimes.

The federation is arming congregants with knowledge to keep themselves safe.

At the entrance of Beth Am synagogue, congregants see an armed guard and a high security gate. Not what you may first think of when you think of a place of worship, but for many congregants this is a sign of the times.

Armed security checks names at the gate before allowing congregants into the Jewish Security Townhall launched by the Jewish Federation of San Diego in response to the rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes.

“If you’re going to send your kids to a Jewish preschool, many parents will first check if there’s armed security there,” says Jewish Federation of San Diego President Heidi Gantwerk. “If you’re walking into services, you’re looking where the exits are at a synagogue. That’s something that the Jewish community is more attuned to because of the threats and the violence that we face.”

The Jewish Federation even introduced its newest hire, Community Security Director Bill Ganley.

This is the first security program of its kind designed to teach congregants the tools and knowledge needed to stay safe at Jewish businesses, schools and places of worship.

“We want people to be aware,” says Secure Community Network CEO Michael Masters. “We want them to commit to action. If they see something, to say something. If something’s happening to be proactive, to react, to call police, to run, to hide, to fight.”

The Anti-Defamation League counted 518 Anti-Semitic incidents in California alone in 2022, which is a 41% rise from the year before.

“Very excited about it,” says congregant Michele Kipnis. “I think if these kinds of measures were in line that a lot of the killings that have happened, at least here in Poway and also in Philadelphia, would not have gone through.”

Those in the community also received these “Stop the Bleed” kits that include Quikclots, tourniquet, and gauze to they can use to hopefully help save lives.