WOODBRIDGE, Conn. (WTNH)– There’s safety concerns among the Jewish community in Connecticut as people get ready to worship over the weekend.
It’s all because of a shooting this week in New Jersey. The two suspects thought to be members of an anti-Semitic group.
The first thing Jewish and community leaders do when we see these types of anti-Semitic incidents is to check in with law enforcement to make sure there is no threat to our area and there is not. But it’s a stark reminder that hate can surface anywhere.
The unthinkable is happening again.
Four people including a police detective murdered in cold blood in what police describe as a planned attack on a Jewish Deli in Jersey City. More tears, more pain, and with the attack not far from our state, more questions about how to keep each other safe.
“Even at my office, patients have said to me ‘Dr. Hoos, do we have to be concerned about what’s happening there and be concerned about whether it’s happening here?’ It can happen anywhere,” said Dr. Jeffery Hoos, President of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
Dr. Jeffery Hoos is President of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. His answer to such inevitable questions is simple but bears repeating.
“We cannot live in fear. We cannot live in fear. We cannot live in fear,” said Hoos.
“Over the past few years we’e seen a major increase in the number of incidents of hate reported to our office and an increase in criminal activity,” said Director Steve Ginsburg, Connecticut Regional Director of Anti-Defamation League.
The Connecticut office of the Anti-Defamation League is working with local law enforcement and the FBI to ensure there is no local threat.
But he says the rooting out the hate that leads to these crimes starts in the community and with the individual.
“You gotta figure out a way to say something. Hopefully it can be to that person and try to change their mind. And if you think that they really in a place where they might take action, you need to tell someone,” said Ginsburg.
“You can choose to live in fear. I choose to live,” said Dave Morley, Woodbridge.
Four times a week Dave Morley plays basketball at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven. He barely notices the extensive security measures in place.
Some of that is by design.
“There are things you can see and things you can’t see,” said Judy Alperin, Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
CEO Judy Alperin says the Jersey City attack only adds to the heightened awareness of possible dangers, but the security measures have long been in place as anti-Semitic attacks have grown in number and scale in recent years.
“We’ve expanded our cameras, we have identified safe rooms and lock down spaces all around our building. We do drills and training,” said Alperin.
The most important thing is to not get used to the hate and not to accept it.
“My heart goes out to them. It’s terrible. I wish no hate existed in the world,” said Morley.
The ADL says it’s working with political leaders for the next legislative session on measures designed to curb the spread of hate and encouragement of violence online, something that has served to amplify and profligate hate crimes and the mass shootings like the one in New Jersey.