The Evolution of the Shomrim

Posted on May 28, 2020 by Harold Levin

Most of you are aware that Temple Beth-El began developing a team of Shomrim last spring. The initial purpose was to provide a watchful eye over our sacred space and our beloved temple family, in the wake of the atrocities experienced by synagogues and other houses of worship in recent years. The corps had several training sessions, including those with law enforcement officers present, and learned how to identify happenings and/or individuals who just did not seem right. You probably noticed folks wandering around during the High Holidays, Kabbalat Shabbat, b’not mitzvot, special events, festivals, religious school, etc. The purpose, we decided, would not be to serve as vigilantes or police officers, but to simply be trained observers who know how to react and where appropriate resources were stored.

The program was doing well and was quite successful at covering almost all the required dates, due to some incredible volunteerism. All of a sudden, things changed when the decision was made to cancel all on-site programming in mid-March when the pandemic took hold of our area. I quickly sent out an email thanking the Shomrim for their dedicated service and told them they were not needed to cover shifts until the crisis subsided. Rhona Ferling, one of our Shomrim, contacted me and suggested that the Shomrim could be utilized to do drive-through check-ins on the temple to ensure all was secure. Amy Rubin quickly embraced this idea, as there has been some recent vandalism to the former Beit Am building. We agreed that the visits should be random rather than on a set schedule, and emphasized to our Shomrim that they should visit only if they felt comfortable leaving their homes during the pandemic.

The request for people to start doing this was met with overwhelming support. Some who had yet to take an indoor Shomrim shift joined the crowd. As of this writing in late April, we are averaging about three visits per day to the building, sometimes as many as five! Shomrim only check the perimeter and reach out to Amy and/or me to alert us to any concerns. We have actually caught the attention of the Hillsborough police, who seem pleased with this effort. Amy Rubin has indicated this project provides her with an extra level of comfort, while other members of the professional staff have expressed their appreciation for this incredible undertaking.

A very heartfelt thank you goes out to the current pool of Shomrim: Rhona Ferling, Caryn Shinske, Cory White, Bryan Bendavid, Jared Bendavid, Jay Lavroff, Jay Taylor, Kevin Skole, Ryan Maizel, Evan Lerner, John Carraher, Paul Walitsky, Keith Holler, Sheldon Stept, Jodi Siegel, Oscar Gonzales, Ed Malberg, Dave Sandler, Jeff Stuart, Rochelle Levin, Eric Pear, Gari Bloom, Cindy Scott, Dave Goldberg, Zachary Stept, Rebecca Stept, and Zohar Lavy.

Not only do they go about their tasks in a caring and professional manner, they also send me wonderful suggestions on how to grow and strengthen our program. We could definitely use more team members as our role continues to develop. Please call me at 908-673-6477 or email to if you would like to join our team! Special thanks to the Oversight Committee, Board of Trustees, my colleagues on the Security Committee and

Ritual Committee and the professional staff, with a special shout-out to Amy Rubin, for their support and direction.

Harold Levin,

Shomrim Coordinator

Originally published in the May-June 2020 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.