Texas synagogue survivors trained by Chicago-based Secure Community Network

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Jewish community across the Chicago area remains on high alert after the 10-hour hostage standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in suburban Fort Worth, Texas over the weekend.

President Biden called it an act of terror.

"We are seeing again in the Jewish community, a Jewish institution and Jews, being targeted," said David Goldenberg, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

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All four hostages survived. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker credits their security training. It was provided by Chicago-based Secure Community Network.

"The exit wasn't too far away, I told them to go," Cytron-Walker said. "I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door."

"He was taught to do anything he could to stay alive. What we teach people in the course is to commit to action," said Michael Masters, the CEO and national director of the Secure Community Network.

In 2020, Masters said the nonprofit provided training to more than 17,000 people in the Jewish community, including many in the Chicago area.

RELATED | Jewish community striving to 'stay strong' after Texas synagogue terror

Masters believes every Jewish person should consider security training. He said SCN launched a new national training program Tuesday.

"So what we want to do is make sure that people have those skillsets so when the moment comes, they are able to take control of the situation, respond calmly and with a cool head as best you can and stay alive," Masters said.

The Jewish United Fund in Chicago sent an email Tuesday to community members addressing security concerns.

"Our community is incredibly scared and understandably so after what took place," said Lonnie Nasatir, the president of JUF.

He said JUF wants community members and institutions to know there are resources available for security.

"For the Jewish community, unfortunately, this is a new sad state of affairs where you have to think about security every single day," Nasatir said.
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