Del Cerro

San Diego Jewish Community Reacts to New York Hanukkah Stabbing Attack

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Those in the San Diego Jewish community are grappling with the recent violence in New York following the attack at a rabbi's home during a Hanukkah celebration. From an increased police response to security precautions, some said there were on edge about safety in houses of worship.

On the minds of some at Temple Emanu-El in Del Cerro, multiple bullets were reportedly found lodged in the wall of one of their buildings in August. It was not classified as an anti-Semitic attack because no suspects were caught and no one was in the building when it happened, but the incident instilled fear in the congregation, copresident Jeff Shindler said.

Earlier this year, the Chabad of Poway experienced a deadly anti-Semitic attack when a shooter killed one of its congregation’s founding members, Lori Kaye, and injured three others, including Rabbi Goldstein.

Local synagogues said they were reviewing their security measures, though they have already been increasing measures over the last couple of years.

The Anti-Defamation League, in fear of a repeat attack locally, also reached out to the San Diego Police Department for help -- SDPD Chief of Police David Nisleit has increased patrols at all its divisions in response.

Schindler said he was on high alert as anti-Semitism has risen 99% nationwide since 2015, according to the ADL. He said he knows the hurt the New York Jewish community is experiencing.

“You come in and attack a Rabbi while they are lighting the Hanukkah candles, it just does not make sense,” Schindler said.

“You think of the lessons we learned from the Holocaust, of which you might know I am the son of two Holocaust survivors, two concentration camp survivors. It’s just horrific that this is happening against innocent people.”

JEFF SCHINDLER, TEMPLE EMANU-EL

“For me, looking at it from a security perspective as a Jew, it is heartwrenching at a Rabbi’s house, going into his home, that is awful,” Temple Emanu-El Security Chairperson Cathi Marx said.

Schindler and Marx said Temple Emanu-El is a leader in its security levels because they have to be that way. Marx learns from other attacks and has been analyzing the deadly Texas shooting at a church that also happened this weekend.

“It was all on film,” Marx told NBC 7.  “I studied it probably 20 times, I watched it and watched it and watched and watched it."

Places of worship need to keep everything outside, she said, so having a perimeter of security is critical, as well as having people checked before entering.

"There are no exceptions because with exceptions something slips," Marx said.

Nationwide in 2018, there was a drop in anti-Semitic attacks, but in California, it went up three percent, San Diego Anti-Defamation League’s Development Director Lindsey Zipkin reports. She said New York saw a 17% increase in 2019 and has seen 10 violent anti-Semitic attacks in the last few weeks.

"Certainly, we don’t want people to live in fear, we don’t want people to stay in their homes and avoid being Jewish, obviously," said Zipkin, also a mother of two. "But I think there is a time to be aware of what the climate is in our country and I think this is one of those times.”

Zipkin said security is and will always be a necessity in her life at her synagogue.

“You have to have a key card to get in, and you have to go through a gate and you have to go through more locked doors. There is a lot of security protocol,” Marx added.

Temple Emanu-El said they believe in having a “healthy fear,” when it comes to growing anti-Semitism.

“We can’t spend our lives worrying, we need to be strong and we need to be forward thinking, and we are,” Schindler said.

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