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15 Years After Sacramento Synagogue Fires, Jewish Leaders Worry It Could Happen Again

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The last time there was a rally at the state Capitol over the issue of anti-Semitism was 15 years ago when three synagogues were torched by white supremacists.

The destruction is burned into Rabbi Mona Alfi's memory 15 years later.

"The idea that somebody was going to attack the center of our learning really went to the heart of who we really were," Alfi said.

But B'nai Israel synagogue rebuilt bigger and better, and the rabbi the community did as well.

"Fifteen years ago the arsons was a wake up call to a lot of us that we need to do more," she said.

What's changed is the response from faith leaders, and they're now standing up to it.

"Even when it's just a visual expression of anti-Semitism there's always a possibility that it will become a violent expression of anti-Semitism," Barry Broad, the president of Sacramento's Jewish Federation.

Monday's rally at the state Capitol coincides with a proposed new law that would require California universities to provide anti-discrimination training to student governments.

"I support laws that would give our students more knowledge of what's wrong with these kinds of behaviors," said state Sen. Marty Block.

At the front of B'nai Israel are the words "Love thy neighbor as thyself." The words went up in the 1950s when the synagogue was built, and stood the test of time.

"After our fire, love thy neighbor as thyself became the reality because neighbors did come and showed us the support that perhaps we were afraid we wouldn't have had back in the '50s," Alfi said.

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