Jewish leaders in the metro are having more conversations and organizing training in the wake of recent anti-Semitic violence in New York and New Jersey, as national statistics show a steady increase in anti-Semitism.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City has started bringing in experts to make sure synagogues, temples and community centers have proper security. They are encouraging leaders to be sure doors are secure by greeting new attendants at the door. They also have a plan in case of an active shooter.
Roberta Clark, executive director of the federation, said while hate is nothing new to the Jewish community, recent attacks and hate speech like the Nazi symbols painted on a statute and the Democratic office building in Norman last year, have made securing places of worship a top priority. But more than that she says anti-Semitism can be fought before it ever reaches a place of worship.
“Hatred doesn't start with just the action,” Clark said. “It starts with the thoughts and the words, and some people stop at the thoughts and the words, many people are propelled to hateful and hurtful actions.”
When it comes to arming congregants or having armed security inside temples or centers, the Federation says that's up to individual faith leaders. The debate over whether to allow firearms in places of worship was reignited after a deadly shooting inside a Texas church in December, where an armed congregant killed a gunman.
In the meantime, officials say training sessions will continue as long as the threat of violence continues.