Local Jewish organizations take steps to keep communities safe after New Jersey threats

Local Jewish organizations take steps to keep communities safe after New Jersey threats
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 11:13 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -Local Jewish organizations are taking steps to keep their communities safe. This, after the FBI warns it’s received credible information of a broad threat to new jersey synagogues.

While there is no threat present locally, members of the Jewish Federations of Western Mass told us they are being proactive about the situation.

On Thursday, the FBI said it received credible information of a broad threat to New Jersey synagogues. The agency now urging people to stay alert and take all security precautions to protect their community.

“We’re part of a network of Jewish federations across North America, so were very conscious of what’s happening in other communities, and we do partner together and share information throughout emergency situations as well as every day,” said Nora Gorenstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass.

Gorenstein and donor impact officer, Bobby Naimark, told Western Mass News that while there isn’t a threat locally, they are continuing to be proactive about security measures.

“At local synagogues, they have a constant police presence and that really makes the whole community feel more secure,” Naimark said.

Gorenstein said they also have an internal communication amongst the leadership of local organization to stay in touch if an emergency arises.

“We’ve really worked to develop those policies so that we can be responsive, even when something’s taking place on shabbat, which traditionally in most of the Jewish faith is a time when we might not be pulling out our cell phones or checking things on the internet, so we have developed alternate ways to let everyone know when there is this type of threat,” she said.

On Wednesday, The Baker Administration announced $4.1 million in funding for several non-profit faith-based organizations across the state, primarily Jewish community organizations and synagogues, including three in western Mass. The administration says the program is intended to upgrade physical security measures against “terroristic and hate-fueled attacks.”

This comes as celebrities such as Kanye West and Kyrie Irving have been under fire recently for anti-Semitic posts and remarks in the media, something Gorenstein said was a big topic at this year’s general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

“One of my favorite quotes from this conference, which ill just share with you now is, “In Jewish life, we respect difference, give difference dignity because we’re different.” And that’s from Rabbi David Wolpe who is the senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and he was one of the keynote speakers at the general assembly and so essentially this echoes that theme that the way that we can prevent some of these terrible tragedies form occurring is by proactively welcoming in people to learn more about Jewish faith, Jewish culture and just to be very accessible and welcoming to all people. Also to recognize and embrace various perspectives even when we don’t agree so that we can help people come to a better understanding of each other,” she said.

Gorenstein said one of the ways they’re able to support the ongoing needs of various community agencies is thru their annual campaign.