Security at the Siyum HashasDate: July 26, 2012
With the 12th Siyum Hashas just one week away, organizers of the massive event have stepped up efforts to ensure the highest standards of security in and around Metlife Stadium.
Agudath Israel of America has enlisted the assistance of Misaskim, which has years of experience coordinating security procedures at large community events. Representatives of both organizations have, over the last several months, participated in dozens of meetings with numerous law enforcement agencies, including the New Jersey State Police, counter terrorism units, federal and state intelligence agencies, New Jersey Transit Police, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, CIA, Port Authority, and the New York State Police Department. Due to the highly unusual nature of the upcoming gathering, the Federal Department of Homeland Security has ranked the event a "#2" on a security-preparedness scale of 6-1, with #6 representing the least stringent level of security and #1 -- generally reserved for events at which the President of the United States is present -- representing the highest.
In addition to nearly 600 New Jersey State troopers - all of whom have undergone eight hours of cultural and hands- on training - more than 1,500 law-enforcement personnel from local, state and federal agencies have been assigned to the Siyum. Security personnel will also be stationed on the highways leading to MetLife Stadium, at bus departure points, and at rest areas along the way.
Every vehicle entering the perimeter of the arena will be "swept" by one of more than 60 teams of K-9 units that will be brought in for the event. Similar measures will be implemented on the trains entering and leaving the Secaucus hub on the day of the Siyum. In addition, police choppers have been assigned to provide air support and to monitor conditions on the roadways leading to the stadium.
More than 150 Hatzolah members have been assigned to work alongside the local emergency medical personnel at the stadium. Additional Hatzolah members will be stationed at the turnpike rest areas, should their assistance there become necessary.
While the arena typically gets "locked down" six hours prior to major events, for the Siyum it will be will be locked as of Sunday, July 29. Once locked down, the entire facility will be swept for hazardous materials twice daily; even incoming mail will be screened by the postal service at an offsite facility.
Many additional security measures are also being implemented behind the scenes. Federal law-enforcement agencies are monitoring worldwide activity to ensure the safety of participants coming into the event from countries outside the US.
Since every participant will be screened by a metal-detector wand before entering the building, it's imperative to arrive well in advance of the program. The NJ Transit, the MTA and the Long Island Railroad are working hand-in-hand to coordinate their services to Siyum HaShas attendees. (The parking lots will be open early, and a pre-Siyum program has been planned.)
The many security and safety measures being implemented by Misaskim also include the setting up of large cooling centers, should such facilities become necessary.
As we prepare for the largest gathering of Jews in modern history, let us remember that although the Agudth Israel and Misaskim spent weeks working to ensure the safety of Siyum participants, security ultimately depends on the Ribbono Shel Olam ... "Im Hashem loy yishmar ir shav shakad shomer."