Keeping Our Baltimore Jewish Community Safe


It’s High Holiday time again, and for the past month Keith Tiedemann has been collaborating closely with local police departments to make sure our synagogues remain safe. Yet, although this is a busy period, his work doesn’t end here. For Tiedemann, the director of security at The Associated’s Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC), protecting the Jewish community is a year-round job. A former major with the Baltimore Police Department, Tiedemann talks about how The Associated, through the BJC, is protecting our Jewish organizations.

What is the BJC’s role during the High Holidays?

This year, we began meeting with local law enforcement in August to discuss best ways to ensure safety during the High Holidays. This includes bringing in foot patrols and helping with traffic, among other measures. I’m also always on call during the holidays if there is a question that needs to be addressed.

How are you, through the BJC, protecting the Jewish community throughout the year?

Beyond the holidays, part of my job involves overseeing security and setting up trainings for the security professionals throughout The Associated system, which includes both JCCs (Park Heights and Owings Mills), the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Myerberg. Yet the bulk of what I do is providing security assessments to more than 100 Jewish facilities across the state.

Across the state?

Yes. We work with big and small synagogues and schools, not only in Baltimore City and County, but from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland, and in-between, including Anne Arundel and Harford Counties. The only part of Maryland that we don’t cover are Montgomery and Prince Georges County, which are served by the DC Federation.

Specifically?

For the past year and a half, I worked closely with over 40 Jewish institutions, helping them with security assessments, working with them on their emergency plans and assisting them with their applications for security grants from MEMA (Maryland Emergency Management Agency) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). We also provided guidance as they applied for hate-crime grants from the state, which are available for at-risk facilities and at-risk schools.

What happens if there is a threat in our community?

The Jewish Federation of North America, of which The Associated is a part, partners with the Department of Homeland Security and the Secure Community Network (SCN) to ensure the safety of Jewish organizations in the U.S. So, when a threat comes in, I have close to 300 people on my emergency response list – a list that includes synagogues, schools, organizations like the Northwest Citizen’s Patrol and Shomrim Baltimore and local law enforcement. When threats come in, I make sure everyone is aware of what’s going on.

Lately, there has been a sharp uptick in antisemitism. Are you seeing that in Baltimore?

In Baltimore, most of what we’ve been seeing is related to cyber threats. Some of the larger organizations have strong tech departments and I provide them with resources and webinars from the Department of Homeland Security when I learn about them. For the other organizations, when they have a cyber concern, I connect them with technology experts in the community.

What about the recent vandalism at the Jewish cemeteries?

We continue to work with the local police as well as providing cemeteries on safety measures. In addition, we are offering them guidance on how to fund new state-of-the-art security technology.

Anything else?

We are fortunate to have great relationships with the law enforcement community. They are true partners, who respond quicky and effectively to any concerns we have. I cannot thank them enough for their role in keeping the Jewish community safe and secure.


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The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

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