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Additional security in place for Purim celebrations in Fairfax District

Drones monitor sky as extra security patrols Purim celebrations in Fairfax District
Drones monitor sky as extra security patrols Purim celebrations in Fairfax District 02:31

In light of the recent crimes targeting the Jewish community throughout Los Angeles County, organizers of the Purim celebration in the Fairfax District Tuesday evening have opted for additional security to lend participants some peace of mind. 

As told by the Book of Esther in the Hebrew bible, Purim is a holiday that celebrates the Jewish people being saved from persecution at the hands of Haman, a court official who called for their annihilation during the ancient Persian Empire. 

The celebration is traditionally held in Adar, or the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls on March 6 and 7 this year. Thousands of Jewish faithful flocked to the Fairfax district for the celebrations, with eyes watching them from above that many were completely unaware of. 

Extra safety measures in the form of security drones patrolled the skies, an idea orchestrated by non-profit organization Magen Am, a security force that monitors 20 of the nation's most populous Jewish communities in California and Arizona. 

"It's really important that people have the ability to feel safe walking down the street, practice their faith in peace," said Rabbi Yossi Elifort, the president of Magen Am. 

Eilfort says that after an increase in hate crimes, especially in the form of antisemitism throughout Los Angeles County, it's important for the community to remain proactive. 

In recent months, the Jewish community has been targeted in a number of various crimes, including the shooting of two men outside of synagogues in the  Pico Robertson district. the defacement of a menorah in Beverly Hills during Hanukkah, the antisemitic rants of Kanye West and a group of people standing on a 405 Freeway overpass holding a sign saying "Kanye was right about the Jews," while performing Nazi salutes. 

"It's when you practice your faith people target you for it, so people wearing Star of David's going to synagogue is when they're targeted, and in an orthodox community that's every day," Eilfort said. 

Magen Am contracted Flying Lion, a drone security company that traditionally assists law enforcement, in order to monitor the celebrations from above. 

"This drone can get on scene much quicker to see a larger area for them," said Berry Brennan, with Flying Lion. "Helps with the resources to manage an event like this."

With two square-miles of festivities planned, Magen Am had security members in cars, on foot and now in the sky.

"It flies through the air, it's very unobtrusive. For most people, they don't know it's around," Brennan said. "The ability for security forces to take advantage of what it's seeing is huge."

After learning of the extra steps taken to ensure their safety, many attendees were quick to issue their support on Tuesday. 

"We definitely feel safe in this community, with organizations like Magen Am. I know they're doing their best and will keep thinking of new, innovative ways to keep everyone safe," said Isaac Tenenbaum. 

Magen Am has already booked Flying Lion drones for another private event. 

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