Focusing on the Good While Remaining Safe

by Robbin Botnick, October 31, 2018

I would like to live in an idealistic world where I can believe that the atrocity of what happened in Pittsburgh could not happen in Mississauga. I want to believe that it will not happen here because we have stricter gun laws and as a society we are much more welcoming and inclusive. I want to believe this, however, the sad reality is that people who want to do harm will find the means, despite social norms and despite gun laws and other laws intended to protect the general population.

As an individual I need to believe that there is still good in the world but I need to temper this with ensuring that as a congregational leader we are doing all that we can to have protocols and guidelines in place to protect our congregation, our staff and our place of worship. As a board we will be working to ensure that our leadership, our staff and our congregants are aware of these protocols and know what to do in the event of an emergency. Schools practice lockdown drills so that in the event of an incident muscle memory will kick in and staff and students will know how to get to a safe place. Schools in recent years have also implemented locked door policies and other similar policies to try and protect students. At Solel, we need to ensure that we are able to create a safe environment while still being welcoming to all. Our board will be revisiting our security protocols and procedures and we will be looking at the steps being taken by other similar organizations and groups to determine what is best for us. Over the coming days and weeks we will be meeting with local synagogue leaders, various interfaith groups, churches and mosques to discuss how we keep our communities safe and how we can help each other. We will be hosting a community meeting, in conjunction with the Peel police, in the next short while, to talk about concerns and discuss strategies to ensure we are supporting safe environments.

I am not so naive to believe that if someone wishes to do harm they will not find a way, however, I do believe that doing nothing and hoping for the best is not a good strategy. If we can institute preventative measures to delay someone or make it more difficult for them to act then we are doing what we can to keep people safe. If we can design a safety and evacuation plan, which we can execute in a dangerous situation, then we are acting responsibly. For Solel this may take different forms. It may mean that the doors are locked a little more often, especially early in the morning or later at night or when there are very few staff or congregants in the building. It may mean that we practice drills to safely exit congregants from the building in the event of fire or other dangerous events. It will mean that we will need to more vigilant and aware of what is happening in our community and around our building.

This is not an easy time and the solutions are multifaceted but we need to find ones that will work for our congregation, staff and leadership.

On a spiritual level, I asked Rabbi Pollack where is God when these tragedies strike? She replied, “God is crying.” This is a conversation that I will have to pursue further with the Rabbi, but initially my interpretation is that God is deeply saddened by what has happened. However, God gave humanity the ability to decide to do good or decide to do evil. We have that choice and while we may not always be able to stop the evil, we can certainly do more to focus on the good.


Filed under: President's Message

« Read more articles