In the wake of Saturday's attack on worshippers at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Jewish congregations and organizations across the country are stepping up security measures and having hard conversations about how to stay safe, CNN reported.
According to authorities, a man interrupted Saturday's Shabbat service at the Jewish congregation in Colleyville and held four people hostage for hours, before the hostages were able to escape.
The suspect – 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram – was killed by an FBI team following the hostages' escape, according to CNN.
"All of a sudden, we have to become experts in security," Rabbi Joshua Stanton, a senior fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership said.
"I did not become a rabbi to be an expert in security," he said. "I became a rabbi to teach, to support, to care, to be in the wider community as a source of love for the world."
Though no one was seriously harmed in Colleyville, the victims of other recent attacks targeting Jewish houses of worship have not been as fortunate.
At the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, 11 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on the congregation. In 2019, one person was killed and three others wounded by a gunman at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. Later in 2019, three people were killed by two shooters at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, in an attack authorities said was fueled partly by antisemitism.
Two law enforcement officials told CNN that investigators believe the hostage-taker in Colleyville might have been motivated by a desire for the release of a Pakistani serving an 86-year sentence at a Texas prison after being convicted of attempted murder and armed assault on U.S. officers in Afghanistan in 2010.
Security is an everyday concern for Jewish synagogues today, and many have received training and implemented their own measures to keep their congregations safe.
Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker released a statement Sunday crediting his survival to training his congregation had received over the years from local police, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League and the Secure Community Network (SCN), a group that helps Jewish communities across North America develop and deploy security protocols.
"We are alive today because of that education," he said.
Ultimately, security is not just about cameras, metal detectors, and training, Jacobs said, it's also about interfaith relationships. Over the course of the day Saturday, he said he was receiving messages of love and support from people of all faiths, including Christians and Muslims, condemning the hostage-taker's actions.
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