Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch announced the expansion of the Security Commission, now under the name of COSEM (Chabad Office of Security and Emergency Management), in a recent broadcast to the worldwide network of over 5,200 Chabad institutions.
For nearly two decades, Chabad Headquarters has assisted its emissaries (shluchim) with various security matters through their centralized office in Brooklyn. This year’s expansion brings with it modernized infrastructure and brand new resources.
“In 2008, when our dear shluchim Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg were killed, among others, HY”D, during the brutal terror attacks in Mumbai, Merkos saw a need to establish the Chabad-Lubavitch Security Commission, an office dedicated to the safety of our shluchim,” says Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.
“Today with antisemitic incidents on the rise, the need to address security concerns of shluchim has never been greater.”
Much of the work by the security office goes unpublicized but, since its inception, the office has assisted in immediate evacuations of shluchim and in addressing threats toward Chabad centers. Tapping into close relationships that have been forged with law enforcement agencies—local, federal and international—the security office has been able to provide timely and effective assistance.
“The security challenges facing shluchim are unique,” says Rabbi Mendel Sharfstein, Executive Director of COSEM. “It is essential that we find practical and cost-efficient solutions to help them better secure their facilities without changing the warm and welcoming atmosphere which has become the hallmark of the Chabad approach to outreach.
“With our new and improved security office, we are confident that we can tackle the security issues facing shluchim more efficiently and work on preventing them to begin with.”
From behind the heavily-secured doors of his office at Chabad Headquarters in Brooklyn, Chief Security Officer Leibel Garelik has a unique view of the world. His walls are lined with virtual maps, each displaying a different service: a birds-eye view of certain Chabad facilities with relevant geographical data. When needed, Garelik can pinpoint a particular center at a glance and take appropriate action.
But the newly-appointed CSO of Chabad Headquarters has an even broader vision. “Our goal,” shares Garelik, “is for every shliach and shlucha to know that they’re not alone. We’ve got their backs—whether they’re deciding which security cameras to install, or if they’ve received a threat. We’re here for them, their families, and their communities.”
While Chabad Headquarters has had an emergency hotline number in place for shluchim for years, “the transition to COSEM gives us the ability to enhance the security of our centers using proactive security measures instead of assisting in only a reactionary way.” shares Rabbi Sharfstein.
Some of the measures they’re developing include: assisting Chabad centers with obtaining security grants, online training courses, a library of downloadable resources, a security database with critical up-to-date information, and assistance with risk assessments. All of this will be available via a brand-new website, cosemhq.org, with private access to security resources for shluchim, and the ability to report incidents in a way that makes the process easy and efficient.
Under a steering committee of shluchim, COSEM is working closely with leading security consultants and a team of industry experts serving on their advisory board.
Specialists include former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley, former Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence for the NYPD Mr. David Cohen, Mr. Jeff Slotnick, President of Setracon, Mr. Michael Glasser of Glasser Security Group, and counter-terrorism activist Devorah Halberstam, among others.
“It is amazing to see the vast network of shluchim that the Rebbe created, and the landscape that Chabad covers is breathtaking,” says Mr. Slotnick. “It is critical for an organization the size and scope of Chabad to have its own security infrastructure. In the past three decades I have been blessed with the opportunity to consult with major municipalities and Fortune 500 companies, but there is nothing that I find more rewarding than putting my years of experience to use in helping Chabad Headquarters in this security venture.”
“Shluchim are swamped with daily operational issues,” says Rabbi Levi Klein of Chabad of Tennessee and part of COSEM’s committee of shluchim. “Having COSEM there to guide them on security matters removes a big burden from them. I am excited to be part of the COSEM team.”
Critical to the work of COSEM is its long-time partnership with the Israel-based Chabad World Assistance (CWA). Headed by Rabbi Shlomi Peles, CWA is instrumental in obtaining security equipment for numerous Chabads and protecting hundreds of Chabad centers around the world.
To view the new Chabad security website, visit cosem.org.
This report first appeared on the COLLive.com website.