Dear Parents and Carers,
The current tensions in the Middle East are clearly of great concern to the whole Hasmonean community. Many staff, students and parents have family who are directly affected by them and all of us – either by virtue of working here or because of our family and friendships – have an indirect connection with people who are directly affected by them.
We are asking all students and staff to be sensitive to the fact that there are a range of opinions on these matters and that this is a Jewish school with a diverse staff body.
What is of paramount importance is that we keep students and staff as safe as possible during this time.
• Been informed by PaJeS that the police are conducting more frequent patrols of the school
• Asked the police to make frequent visits to the schools/ local bus stops at the beginning and end of the day and been assured there will be more police presence by them
• Received guidance from the CST and our own security company about how they are stepping up their security measures
• Reviewed and improved our own security measures (both recently and in terms of our security infrastructure in recent years)
Further information about how students can protect themselves and respond to anti-Semitic abuse can be found below this editorial.
Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful Shabbos,
CEO, Hasmonean MAT
Unfortunately, many of our students are reporting that they are worried for their personal safety, especially whilst travelling to and from school, and during the weekend when out and about.
We wanted to remind you of some key tips to discuss with your children about keeping themselves safe whilst on the streets.
• stay alert, and when using headphones, they should be sure to look up and pay extra attention and remove the headphones when crossing the street.
• stick to busy, well-lit roads, and avoid short cuts through alleyways
• if your child thinks someone is following them, they should cross the road or go to a place with lots of people around, like a bus stop or shop
• your child could carry a whistle or shrill alarm around their neck or on a key chain to warn off suspicious strangers
• when travelling by bus, your child should try to use bus stops on busy roads
• if someone tries to take something from your child, tell them never to fight back
• tell them to keep mobile phones and other valuables out of sight, and to turn off their mobile phone ringer to avoid attracting attention
• don’t let your child carry weapons because they are more likely to be used against them, and it’s illegal
• encourage your child to speak to you or the school if they are being bullied or feel they might be in danger
We have also included the CST bulletin CST Security Bulletin – May 2021 to remind you how to approach the rise in anti-Semitic incidents and below is an important message from CST.
With kind regards,
Ms R Benarroch
Interim Assistant Headteacher – Pastoral
Hasmonean High School for Boys
Mrs L Waugh
Assistant Headteacher – Pastoral
Hasmonean High School for Girls
I am writing to tell you what Community Security Trust is doing to protect our community at this difficult time, and how you and your family can help.
All of our work is done in partnership with schools, synagogues and communal groups across the country. We thank them all and we thank you also for cooperating with our united effort. If you are going to synagogue or to any other Jewish location, please comply with all the security procedures and follow the instructions of the security guards and volunteers on site. Please read our latest Security Notice.
What we are all going through right now is something that happens whenever there is conflict around Israel. It is a disgrace that there should be such antisemitism here (and in other countries), but the reality is well known to CST, schools, synagogues and other communal bodies. It is why our security measures are in place. We have been through similar times before, we plan for them and we focus on the job of protecting our Jewish community. The antisemitism began to really worsen almost two weeks ago and our staff, volunteers and those assisting in security rotas have worked exceptionally hard since then.
Our security operations have increased greatly and we will keep pushing through until this hopefully comes to an end. CST’s 24/7 National Security Control Centre is connected by CCTV and radio to over 450 sites across the country has been especially busy, including all through each night. Our non-operational staff are helping with the flood of calls from our community so we can give every caller what they need.
The number of antisemitic incidents reported to CST has risen by 500% in the past two weeks, which is consistent with previous conflict situations. We have also received a rise in reports of suspicious activity near to Jewish locations. We need these reports so that we can help you and protect our community. Please report all antisemitic incidents or suspicious activity to CST and to the police – please see details of how to report an incident. In an emergency call 999 and the CST 24/7 emergency number 0800 032 3263. Our specialist incident support staff can help and advise you.
Our role is to support people affected by antisemitism, to act wherever possible against antisemites and to give a sober, reliable picture to our community, police, politicians and media of what is happening. CST is professional, calm and determined, giving physical and moral support that we hope helps make our community less nervous and more robust. Police, government and media are receiving daily updates from CST of antisemitic incidents, extremist incitement and our security needs. If you report antisemitism to us, it makes CST’s briefings to police, government and media more comprehensive and more accurate: meaning we all get better protection. It means our concerns are heard and acted upon. For example, the Jewish community and CST received support from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, and the Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.
This week I have discussed our concerns with the Home Secretary and one of the most senior Metropolitan Police operational commanders. The police response is a strong one, with officers stationed in our 24/7 control centre as necessary and much strengthened visible policing in Jewish neighbourhoods. I stressed that we cannot have another situation where a large convoy of cars is driven through Jewish neighbourhoods with the clear intent of intimidating and threatening Jewish people.
CST’s security work is visible and obvious, both the guards and the equipment that we have helped install at schools and shuls all over the country. All community locations and guarding companies have received regular updates from CST, seeking to ensure that the measures we have in place for these situations are fully implemented.
CST’s security work is intelligence based, but this happens behind the scenes. Our expert researchers are finding extremist incitement online and passing it to police and government on a daily basis. Some of the evidence we have gathered has contributed to important arrests in recent days for antisemitic hate crimes that we hope will result in prosecutions. Other investigations are ongoing. We want to ensure that there is always a cost for people who attack, threaten and harass our community. Your role in this is vital. If you see or hear something, take down the details and report it to CST. Please help to be our eyes and ears.
We know that all this antisemitism and extreme anti-Israel hatred is affecting our young people particularly badly. Jewish children and students are facing abuse and being singled out, in primary and secondary schools, online and on campus. For children, we have long partnered with Maccabi GB in running Streetwise. If you scroll down their website you will see educational materials that we hope will help keep children safe and enable them to better understand all of this. Streetwise has a specific programme for children in non-Jewish secondary schools, called Stand Up!, which provides education about antisemitism as part of a broader approach to discrimination. For students, we have a dedicated Student Security Coordinator who works closely with the Union of Jewish Students and Jewish Societies across the UK. There is more information about the support that is available for young people on the CST website.
We have also packaged a large amount of our own previous educational resources, now available on the CST website, to help teach people about antisemitism. The CST Blog has a strong public statement that analyses the situation and explains what we are doing.
One important difference now compared to previous difficulties is the amount of material being shared on communal Facebook and WhatsApp groups. It is right that we all stick together at this time, but some of the things being shared in these groups are exaggerated or simply incorrect. CST’s public statements seek to be accurate and sensible. Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Please appreciate that this email only scratches the surface of what we are doing, both publicly and privately. Obviously our work will continue for as long as it is needed, both in the current situation and beyond, but together we will get through this as we have done before. We all deserve to live proudly, confidently and safely as Jews in our country, and this is what CST is here to ensure.
CST Chief Executive
Office 020 8457 9999