SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento’s Jewish community says it’s bracing for acts of antisemitism, like we’ve seen take place across the nation.
Local law enforcement agencies say a response plan is now in place to protect their freedom of religion.
Menorahs are still standing tall, Jewish prayers are going on in full public view, but at synagogues and Jewish centers in Sacramento, congregations are on alert and urgently banding together, to protect each other, as anti-Jewish hate crimes intensify nationwide.
“I think it would be naive to think that these threats won’t come to Sacramento at some point or there won’t be action that follows,” said Willie Recht of the Jewish Federation of Sacramento.
He’s only been in his new role as executive director for a few months, but it hasn’t been business as usual, as he takes on Antisemitism.
“The Jewish community has often been the victim to this sort of violence and threats,” said Recht.
He recalls the 1999 firebombing of three Sacramento synagogues.
The blazes were among the worst acts of antisemitism in U.S. history.
But recently, it’s the vicious vandalism of a cemetery in Philadelphia, and ongoing bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the country that has the Sacramento Police Department stepping in with a local preparedness plan.
“Free speech and freedom of religion is what we’re bound on here in this nation and it’s incumbent on us as law enforcement to ensure that those rights are fulfilled and people can express that,” said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein.
He says the regional threat assessment unit is partnering with local Jewish organizations to beef up security to levels they haven’t seen in a long time.
But orthodox groups are taking it a step further, asking people to turn to prayer to heal a divided country.
“We’re very thankful to the police and government for protecting us, and we turn to them. But we know that the real help comes from God. Because as much security as we have, there’s no assurance that nothing will happen. It’s a wake-up call for Jews around the world,” said Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad of Sacramento.