In the wake of antisemitic events in the area, CCL — Concerned Citizens League (CCL) Shul Members in Chicago — have been installing security cameras in key areas of interest in local Jewish neighborhoods.
When antisemitic vandalism occurred in West Rogers Park just days after Holocaust Memorial Day, police were able to catch the offender with the help of camera footage from a local school and Synagogue. But other incidents have gone unrecorded and unsolved.
In the wake of the events, CCL Shul Members decided to do something about it. The grassroots group, founded to educate, inform, and support the community on safety and security, ran a community-wide campaign to raise funds to install cameras in key areas of interest in the neighborhood.
The campaign raised enough money to begin a limited initial purchase and installation, and they currently have multiple cameras installed. The video cameras allow local police and detectives direct access to cloud footage of those areas, which they can quickly use to ID suspects and alert and inform patrolling officers.
CCL Shul Members is now looking to expand their network to cover more of the historically Jewish neighborhood.
“We were founded to protect Shuls from violence,” said Avraham Hershkovich, Vice President of CCL Shul Members and the campaign’s initiator. “But since then, we’ve seen attacks at stores and even on the streets. We decided we need to do something to protect our whole community.”
Antisemitic attacks have reached historic levels, both in Illinois and across the country. Incidents, including assault, harassment, and vandalism, have skyrocketed. Illinois saw 53 documented attacks in 2021, the highest in recent history.
The cameras are part of the CCL Shul Members’ response to broaden its reach outside Shuls and initiate a full-circle approach to community safety. In addition to its vetted Shul Safety Officer Program and community-wide educational classes, CCL is also implementing security and safety classes for women, beginning with self-defense lessons and Krav Maga (Israeli hand-to-hand combat training).
“We don’t stand to the side and contemplate what needs to be done,” said President Chaim Naiditch. “We roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty, and help do our part to fix the problem.”
As of today, there are numerous additional cameras to keep an eye on the neighborhood. But Hershkovich says there’s still a lot to be done. “Our end goal is to educate the community about safety and security and make sure it’s protected from within. But for now, we’re working on getting more cameras to more locations that need them.”
The camera campaign is still ongoing and backed by local rabbis, for those who have an interest in this effort. For further information, please reach out to: [email protected].
CCL was founded by members of synagogues in the Chicago area to help Shul members obtain instruction, information, and support. The goal is to educate and standardize advanced training for safety officers and citizens. Program graduates are well versed in Stop the Bleed, CPR/AED, Tactical Emergency Casualty Care, de-escalation, safety, security, and self-defense, with synagogue members who include a diverse group of medics, educators, professionals, and businesspeople.
“In compliance and communications with local law enforcement, we provide increased safety and awareness for our community and synagogues,” CCL said.