War leaves Capital Region synagogues on high alert

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The Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York was holding a rally Monday evening at 7 p.m. in support of the land of Israel, at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany.

The rally comes at a difficult time for the Jewish community. Not only is the nation of Israel at war, incidents of antisemitism are on the rise here in the United States.

At synagogues across the country, safety and security concerns remain at the forefront of everyone’s consciousness.

FBI statistics appear to underscore the need for “active vigilance” at many houses of worship.

Even though just over 2% of the U.S. population identifies with the Jewish religion, more than half of all hate crimes committed in the country last year targeted Jewish people or institutions.

There’s no community in America that is immune to antisemitism, racism, or bigotry, according to Rabbi Matt Cutler of Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady.

Whether or not the current situation in Israel will create additional antisemitism, or perhaps more support for the Jewish community, is hard to predict, he said.

“We can’t guarantee with 100% certainty that there’s going to be safety. We are following all the protocols that have been mapped out,” said Cutler. “Our Jewish federation is in close conversation with not only the local FBI and State Police, but also with outside security companies that are helping to guarantee better safety in our synagogues.”

Cutler’s synagogue also has panic buttons, push bars and more, he said. Those can delay someone trying to get into a building, which gives people inside more time to get to safety.