SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Ahead of the Sabbath, the Capital District Jewish community has increased security measures after Hamas called for a ‘day of rage’. Local Jewish leaders explained what they’re doing to address safety concerns.
“There has been a call for a national, going out against the Jewish community today. We have not received a specific threat,” said Congregation Gates of Heaven Rabbi Matt Cutler.
He said the safety concerns stem from the conflict in Gaza and has hopes for peace. He clarified it’s not a conflict between the Jews and the Muslims, it is a conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas.
“We are in this together but yet at the same time, the political differences in the war puts us on opposite sides of the equation. That doesn’t mean that we can’t model decency, civility, and coming together for peace,” said Cutler.
He said they have been in communication with multiple law enforcement agencies, despite no direct threat, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“We have been in touch with local law-enforcement. We’ve been in touch with the FBI, and the state police, a private security network that deals with Jewish institutions. We have to be cautious but there are no viable threats that have been levied against any Jewish institution in our area,” said Cutler.
Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino has shown incredible support, Cutler said, and has been providing an increased presence and awareness of their needs. In addition to that, they have consulted with a private security firm. Both law enforcement and private security are expected to be present at Friday’s Sabbath services.
“We need to be very vigilant and diligent in the way that we approach things,” said Cutler. “It is imperative that we do what’s necessary to ensure safety but not deviate at all from our programming.”
Jewish Community Center of Schenectady CEO David Posner said they already have security measures throughout the year, adding it has unfortunately become a part of the fabric of the Jewish community.
“And for the purposes of today we were at briefings, and we took just one very sensible precaution, which was to keep the children indoors during recess playtime,” said Posner.
He said law enforcement has been patrolling the area more frequently.
“We are very happy that our partnerships with law enforcement are such that it wasn’t only the local Niskayuna police but it was also Schenectady police and the sheriffs office that were coming through the facility and rolling through checking on things,” said Posner. He called the measures reasonable and prudent.
In the midst of heightened vigilance and security concerns, the rabbi expressed sympathy for all the lives lost.
“I know that I have to acknowledge that there is Palestinian suffering and there are civilian deaths. I have to acknowledge that but I need to first comfort my community and my family and my friends who are really reeling from the brutality of this assault,” said Cutler.