Local synagogues on high alert after Texas hostage situation

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Jewish leaders here in South Bend are on high alert after an anti-Semitic attack in Texas. The hostage incident which happened during a Shabbot service at a synagogue in Dallas — is being treated by the FBI as an act of terrorism.

24 hour surveillance systems have already been the norm for synagogues like this one here in south bend, but for many they’re planning on installing additional security measures like tap in key card systems.

Intercom systems and security cameras are one of the largest expenses at Sinai Synagogue in South Bend.

After an hours-long standoff in Texas, which the FBI called a hate crime and act of terrorism — Rabbi Michael Friedland says the expense is necessary to protect members of his worship community.

“We have spent a considerable effort and energy and money on security. When I saw what happened in dallas which they have also tremendous security it is concerning," said Rabbi Michael Friedland.

The parking lot has been empty at Friedlands synagogue, while they stick to virtual services during the pandemic.

But David Goldenberg of the Anti-Defamation League says the Texas incident when minority groups do gather, they face a growing risk of targeted, mass violence.

“It’s not by mistake that this particular individual targeted a synagogue during Shabbat services. We have to remember that synagogues remain at the forefront at risk of terrorist attacks," said Goldenberg.

Here in South Bend both Temple Beth-el and Sinai Synagogue are seen as secure houses of worship open for all.

The open door policy is something Goldenberg says could change moving forward to prevent similar incidents.

“Synagogues and houses of worship are places for community gatherings. They’re places for us to come together and when you walk in the ability to pray to allow your mind to relax. To allow your body to relax is so important, but at the same time we know the institutions have to take the necessary safety precautions," said Goldenberg.

Friedland says it’s times like these where we should picture ourselves walking through others’ shoes - to come together as a community sparking change.

“When we hear things. When we see things. We have to act on it," said Rabbi Friedland.

Services will continue to remain virtual for the time being.

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