By Jeff Wagner

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — As Passover came to a close Saturday, gunshots targeted at Jewish worshipers in California brought a tragic ending to a holy week. At least one person was killed and several more shot.

“We were appalled and horrified, but at the same time resolute,” Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council for Minnesota and the Dakotas, said.

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He said their security protocol for synagogues and other institutions in the Twin Cities has been activated. Local law enforcement, such as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, said patrols were increased around synagogues as well.

“People should know that great effort is being taken to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.

Hunegs understands that sense of safety might be rattled at the moment, a feeling only amplified by the Easter morning bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

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The mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, only six months earlier, has never left Hunegs’s mind.

“In terms of Jewish community security, time will be measured pre-Pittsburgh and post-Pittsburgh,” he said.

The shooting in San Diego County is another painful reminder that attacks on religion can happen anywhere, and already have in the Twin Cities with the 2017 bombing of the Dar Al Farooq mosque in Bloomington.

It’s partly why he said all places of worship must be vigilant, while also remaining as welcoming as ever.

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“The rabbis will tell you, the priests will tell you, the ministers will tell you, the pastors will tell you, the imams will tell you, that it’s important to congregate,” Hunegs said. “There’s a certain strength in people coming together that is irreplaceable and unique to the human existence.”

Jeff Wagner