Police step up security for Jewish communities in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas

Jewish security organization says no known threats to other institutions after attack on Texas synagogue

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Police near Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, January 15, 2022. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP)
Police near Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, January 15, 2022. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP)

Police in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas increased patrols at Jewish sites on Saturday after an attacker took Jews hostage at a synagogue in the town of Colleyville, Texas.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the city’s police force was “deploying additional patrols to Dallas synagogues and other sites.

“Police are working with the Jewish Federation and our local, state, and federal partners to monitor any concerns or threats based on the situation in Colleyville,” Johnson said. Colleyville is part of the Dallas-Forth Worth metropolitan area.

New York Mayor Eric Adams said, “Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD has deployed additional resources to key Jewish locations around the city tonight.”

New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who is Jewish, said, “As the hostage situation continues to unfold at a Texas synagogue, I want to assure my constituents that I have spoken with NYPD and they have increased patrols outside of Brooklyn synagogues.”

The NYPD in southern Brooklyn said it had increased its presence at synagogues and other religious sites.

FILE – In this Dec. 11, 2019 photo, Orthodox Jewish men pass New York City police guarding a Brooklyn synagogue prior to a funeral for Mosche Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was killed in a shooting at a Jersey City, New Jersey market (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The Los Angeles Police Department said it was “working with our federal partners, increasing patrols around synagogues in LA as a precautionary measure.”

Police in Ramapo, New York, outside of New York City, said they were increasing patrols at “houses of worship” in response to the incident.

Jewish community protection groups in New York also said they were on heightened alert.

The Shomrim protection group in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park said it was increasing patrols in the neighborhood. Shomrim groups in Williamsburg and Flatbush said police were increasing protection at neighborhood synagogues.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas said it had notified synagogues and Jewish organizations in the area to “activate security protocol” and was working with police and the FBI.

The Secure Community Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions across the US, said there were no known threats to any other Jewish institutions.

“This situation appears to be local and isolated,” the organization said.

“SCN is not aware of any direct, credible threats to any other institutions. SCN encourages all organizations to constantly evaluate their security efforts, and maintain vigilance in implementing them,” it said.

The group said it was monitoring the situation and was in contact with law enforcement agencies and Jewish organizations.

The Secure Community Network said representatives from Congregation Beth Israel took part in one of its security training programs last year. The training in Fort Worth focused on situational awareness and how to respond to emergency situations.

Police secure the area around Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. (Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP)

Congregation Beth Israel was the latest in a series of US Jewish institutions that have been violently attacked in recent years.

In October 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

In April 2019, an attacker shot one congregant to death at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California.

In December 2019 an assailant killed one and injured four at a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York. The attacker initially tried to break into a synagogue next door.

Also in December 2019, two shooters killed three people in an attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey. Police said they were motivated by antisemitism and they may have been targeting a Jewish day school next to the synagogue.

There have also been deadly attacks in recent years against Jewish institutions in Germany and France.

There are regular acts of antisemitic vandalism against synagogues and Jewish schools in the US and non-lethal attacks on American Jews.

Jews are targeted in hate crimes in the US more than any other religious group, by far, according to the FBI.

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