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Rise in antisemitic hate crimes leads to more protection for Jewish communities ahead of Passover

Rise in hate crimes leads to more protection for Jewish communities
Rise in hate crimes leads to more protection for Jewish communities 02:02

CLOSTER, N.J. -- A troubling rise in hate crimes is leading to action to protect religious communities.

State and federal officials are working to protect houses of worship ahead of some important holidays.

"Passover is a holiday for the Jewish people that celebrates freedom, our exodus from Egypt," said David-Seth Kirshner, a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Closter.

But Kirshner says freedom still doesn't come free.

From the locked doors to security cameras and armed guards, his synagogue spends a disproportionate amount of its operating budget on security. That's especially true around holidays.

"Whenever there is a holiday, whenever there is increased traffic, whenever there is time of celebration, we always look over our shoulder a little bit more," he said.

Sadly, hate is still on the rise.

READ MORE: Anti-Defamation League report shows New York with most antisemitism incidents in 2022

The Anti-Defamation League says nationwide, last year saw the highest number of antisemitic incidents since the group started keeping track 44 years ago.

Just this week, eight groups serving Jewish communities formed the Jewish Security Alliance of New York and New Jersey, banding together resources to bolster safety.

"This agreement ensures that we are more unified in our response to security for the Jewish population in this New York-New Jersey area, which is about a third of the entire Jewish population in the country," said Tim Torell, security director for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

With Passover starting next week and Easter next weekend, FBI and Homeland Security officials met in southern New Jersey on Friday to discuss protecting houses of worship.

READ MORE: 9 organizations team up to form Jewish Security Alliance of New York-New Jersey

Back in Closter, the already tight security at Temple Emanu-El will be even tighter next week.

"We never let our guard down here at the temple," Kirshner said.

Kirshner says it's a sad reality that the celebration of freedom must also be a time for caution.

Passover begins on April 5 and ends on April 13.

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