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February 14, 2003 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-14

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Best Defense

Local Jewish organizations deal with "Level Orange."


Staff Writer


ast weekend, when the nation's alert status
was raised to "orange," the second highest
level, citizens were told an attack was
On Saturday, Feb. 8, the FBI contacted Jewish
leaders across the nation to tell them Jewish institu-
tions and synagogues may be targeted. When that
news was made public, Flo Paterni of West
Bloomfield began to have doubts about attending a
concert at Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield.
Though she was concerned about being in a large-

Krav Maga instructor Sam Sade, right, defends against
instructor Nick Coiling during "Knife Class."

gathering of Jews, a friend convinced her to go.
The Detroit schoolteacher's concern was heightened
on the way home from work Tuesday afternoon as she
listened to radio talk shows give advice on how to seal
a room from biological attacks.
"It's almost surreal," Paterni said.
Jewish community leaders from metropolitan Detroit
are handling the increasingly surreal "non-specific"
threats in different ways.
"We're all aware that we've moved to Level Orange
and we've taken extra precautions, including some
increased security at certain events when we know
there will be more traffic in the building," said Rabbi
Michael Moskowitz of Shir Shalom. "We haven't
reached a lock-down mode or anything like that either,
but we're all definitely more aware and more alert."
The Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan
Detroit has been at high alert at both locations since
9-11 and shows no signs of letting up, said David
Sorkin, JCC executive director.
"The difference between yellow and orange mostly
relates to public institutions of higher rank than a
Jewish Community Center," Sorkin said. "For the



purpose of the centers being fairly public institu-
tions, we felt that it was best for us to keep a high
level of security continuing during these times."
Sorkin said they have been operating at the
"orange" level since 9-11.
"We would only change it if it were to go to red,"
he added. "If it were red, we would probably close
the institution."
The Jewish Community Center of Washtenaw
County has increased security since 9-11 as well, said
Leslie Bash, executive director. "We're in constant con-
tact with the Ann Arbor Police Department, and we
have a whole list of procedures and things that we do."
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
keeps lines of communication open with public offi-
cials, said Mark Davidoff, Federation executive direc-
tor and chief operating officer.
The Anti-Defamation League-Michigan Region is
the point organization on security, he said. "They
share with us any communiques they get from their
national office, which, of course, we share with our
agencies," he said.
Davidoff invited Betsy Kellman, ADL regional direc-
tor, to give a brief update this week during the regular
bimonthly meeting of Federation agencies.
"I met with the FBI last Friday and talked about
very non-specific threats," Kellman said. "I don't want
to alarm people; on one hand, I think there are some
real issues here, on the other hand, I don't want to
scare people into thinking they can't go on with their
daily lives. That's the balance we're trying to find."
The FBI intercepted some threats, non-specific in
nature, against Jewish organizations and institutions,
she said, but it didn't say where or even if those institu-
tions were in the United States.
"We are sending out a letter to Jewish organizations
and institutions across the state with some bullet points
telling people these are some of the things that you
should be looking for," Kellman said. "The ADL can-
not stress enough that every building and institution
should review its security procedures now, practice
evacuation procedures and keep everyone informed."
As Jewish institutions prepare for the worst, Sam
Sade, a former Israeli paratrooper and Krav Maga
(Israeli self-defense course) instructor from Los
Angeles, said the American public is not prepared for
what might happen.
"Here, people are more relaxed, they have an easier
life," he said. "What's the chance of them getting
involved in a violent situation when they're living in
a nice neighborhood?" asked Sade, who taught a
four-hour "Knife Class" Feb. 8 at the Dragon
Academy in Livonia.
"Israelis are more aggressive because of the situation
where they are living. Over there, it's very easy to get
people into the fight mentality"
"In a real fight, you don't have a referee to protect
you, you don't have anyone but you to protect your-
self," Sade said. "Giving up is not an option." El

Crisis In Iraq

Iraq home to glorious Jewish past
but to a lonely, fragile present.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York City
oseph Dabby was caught amid the winds
of change.
An Iraqi Jew, he was twice tossed into
the country's jails on trumped-up charges
of spying for. Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War.
Dabby now remembers being blindfolded by
Iraqi officials, marched outside and frozen by the
sounds of gunfire around him.
Eventually, Dabby was released with the help of
influential connections and money.
"I was lucky," he says, recalling what befell his
uncle, who was tied to a spinning ceiling fan and
jolted with electrical shocks for the same bogus
charge at that time.
While Iraq is a bitter memory for Dabby —
now 57, and a developer living in Los Angeles —
he identifies with the Jewish community in his
homeland, where only about 50 Jews now remain.
As America prepares for a possible war in the
Persian Gulf, Iraqi Jewish expatriates are wary of
the repercussions of war in general, and on their
former country in particular. Just the same, they
largely support it, say Dabby and others inter-
viewed for this article.
"I'm scared of what this crazy man can do," Dabby
says, referring to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"I think we're embarking on the right way," he
adds, calling America's initiative "courageous."
As for the few Jews left in Iraq — about half of
whom are elderly and said to be seeking haven in
the last remaining synagogue in Baghdad — their
situation is fragile.
"They are a tiny, vulnerable group and current
rhetoric from the Iraqi government increase their
fears and ours," said Steven Schwager, executive
vice president of the American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee (JDC).
"As soon as circumstances allow, JDC will do
whatever is humanly possible to help them."


The History

The Jewish presence in what is now Iraq is a tale
of one of the longest surviving Jewish communi-
ties, dating back to 722 B.C.E, when the north-
ern tribes of Israel were defeated by Assyria and
taken into captivity there, according to Lawrence
Schiffman, the Edelman professor of Hebrew and
Judaic studies at New York University.
But most of the Jews came to what is now Iraq
in 586 B.C.E., when it was Babylon. The south-
ern tribes of Israel were conquered by the
Babylonians, who destroyed the First Temple and
enslaved the Jews in their land. •
That's why Jews from the area often refer to

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