In the wake of horrific violence against Christian and Jewish places of worship, a non-profit dedicated to the success of Israel is looking to secure every synagogue under threat around the world.
Last October, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue (pictured) in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania – in the middle of a Saturday worship service – and started killing people. White supremacist Robert Gregory Bowers killed 11 people on that day and injured seven others.
For Yael Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, it was a breaking point.
“Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe and across the Middle East for many years,” she notes, “but what’s terrifying to see is that that trend has gotten to America.”
More recently, the attack on the Chabad of Poway (California) synagogue on Passover left one woman dead, a rabbi wounded in the hand, and two others with shrapnel wounds.
Following the attack in Pittsburg, Eckstein started asking what it would take to secure every synagogue that’s under threat around the world.
“In the past five years, we’ve been working with different officials who have told us exactly which synagogues and Jewish schools around the world are being targeted,” she shares, “and we’ve gone in and secured hundreds of locations in over 40 countries.”
And as it turns out, securing a synagogue isn’t as expensive as she thought.
“In order to be secure, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend millions of dollars living in a bomb-proof, bullet-proof synagogue,” Eckstein explains. “Very often it’s about deterrence. It’s about a simple security camera system that costs $3,000, or a guard who will stand outside.”
ICFJ-funded security efforts have occurred in more than a dozen European countries; in countries such as India, Russia, and Argentina; and later this year in Mexico.