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Following Texas Hostage Episode, LA Authorities Reaffirm Synagogue Safety

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) – After last weekend's hostage standoff at a synagogue in Texas, local and federal authorities held a news conference Friday morning in Los Angeles to address safety concerns for local synagogues.

"We affirm no person should ever fear for their life when entering a house of worship a sacristy ever," said Rabbi Sharon Brous from IKAR, a Jewish community-based in Los Angeles.

Following Texas Hostage Episode, LA Authorities Reaffirm Synagogue Safety
Officials from the LAPD, FBI and Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater L.A. hold a news conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 21, 2022. (CBSLA)

The news conference at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills was put on by the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater L.A.

On Saturday, a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Coleyville, TX. The standoff lasted 11 hours before the hostages escaped. The suspect was shot and killed.

"To be targeted at your place of worship you sanctuary is a violation of the worst kind," said FBI Assistant Director Kristi Johnson.

During the press conference, leaders from other religious communities stood in solidarity with the Jewish community.

"An attack on one house of worship is an attack on all house of worship," said Father Alexei Smith, from the Archdiocese of L.A.

"We do not want the narrative of hate to override our faith," said Umar Hakim from Intellect Love & Mercy Foundation.

Amid an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, officials Friday called on state and federal politicians to triple non-profit security grants to ensure that synagogues can boost security.

"Jews only make up about 2% of the U.S. population, we're a very small people...And yet, Jews are the victims of nearly 60% of hate crimes in this country," said Rabbi Noah Farkas, Jewish Federation president.

Last month, dozens of residents in Beverly Hills and Pasadena found fliers containing anti-Semitic propaganda in their front yards.

In September, a man who witnesses say was yelling anti-Semitic threats to dozens of people at a Fairfax District synagogue allegedly tried to drive his car into the crowd.

"We as a religious community have got to get together like this every time there is an attack," said Pastor William Smart from Christ Liberation Ministries.

Law enforcement called on worshippers of different religious backgrounds and denominations to alert police if they learn of any potential hate crimes.

"If you have information on a hate crime or someone planning to commit a crime please report it to law enforcement immediately," said Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook.

The religious leaders echoed the same message.

"The Jewish religion is part of the divine religions based on Islam therefore it is our responsibility [as] Muslims especially, American Muslims to speak out against antisemitism."


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