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Israel-Hamas war has Bay Area Jewish community fearful of antisemitic violence

The Jewish community in the Bay Area felt high levels of anxiety Friday as synagogues and schools stepped up security. 

“We have a community that’s traumatized, there’s been an incredible loss of life in Israel, people here have lost family members, people here have seen loved ones abducted,” said Raphael Brinner, director of community security at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

He is working closely with local law enforcement, the FBI, and Secure Community Network — a national agency monitoring threats to the Jewish community. 

The war between Hamas and Israel has Jewish organizations even more fearful of antisemitic violence.

“Under these circumstances, you can imagine it’s like Sept. 12 imagine like it’s 2001 and the level of anxiety is through the roof,” said Brinner.

“We have made sure our patrols have been stepped up in religious and cultural institutions around San Francisco, and so far, we have seen peaceful protests, we haven’t had any heightened issues or things that are of concern, but we remain vigilant,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

While a few Jewish day schools along the Peninsula decided to close Friday, in San Francisco the two Jewish schools continued with classes. The elementary school had two guards stationed at the entrance.

“We really need to reassure the community that the community is safe that the community should continue engaging in all the activities we do, memorial services, celebrations, bar and bat mitzvahs, all these things,” said Brinner.

At Congregation Emanu-El, several hundred people typically gather on Friday nights for Shabbat services. The synagogue already has a robust security protocol and has been working with the city and San Francisco police to ensure everyone’s safety this Friday night.

“That’s why so many people are going to come tonight because they want that sense of safety and security,” said Rabbi Sydney Mintz. “The Jewish people are praying for peace. What we want is, we want a place that’s secure and safe for everyone, children.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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