By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s Jewish leaders are reacting to Saturday’s hostage situation at a Texas synagogue.

Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman of Temple Israel in Minneapolis says the incident is concerning to Jews, and non-Jews, everywhere.

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“The situation wherever you are in a house of prayer should be one of safety and security,” Rabbi Zimmerman said. “Prayer is the most peaceful act one can do.”

The rabbi who was held hostage encouraged all religious groups Sunday to participate in active shooter courses. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas has held security seminars in conjunction with law enforcement. Steve Hunegs, the JCRC’s executive director, says security efforts need to be redoubled after the hostage situation.

“We need to bring even more congregations, whatever the religion is, into the effort because collective security is so very important,” Hunegs said.

But it’s a balance, Hunegs says, because places of worship should be welcoming. Zimmerman says security at her temple is both seen and unseen.

“We all have a keen sense that we are all part of a security team going forward, and that’s what community is,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

Jews make up about 2% of the U.S. population, yet more than half of hate crimes with a religious bias in 2020 were anti-Jewish, according to the FBI. Still, there’s reason for hope.

“The reservoir of goodwill in this country is seemingly bottomless, and that’s what we’re gonna use to help us address anti-Semitism,” Hunegs said. “Most people are people of good faith and good will who want to help.”

Hunegs says law enforcement reached out to him Saturday to say they would make extra patrols available if needed. He says Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also called him to talk about protecting houses of worship.

Rabbi Rachel Rubenstein of St. Paul’s Temple of Aaron Synagogue released a statement in response to the Texas attack:

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We were heartbroken to turn on our phones after Shabbat to be confronted with the news of the hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas yesterday. Unfortunately, we were heartbroken but not surprised. The need for vigilance and security at synagogues around the country and around the world has become second nature to the Jewish community. We thank God that all four of the hostages in yesterday’s attack were freed without physical harm, and we pray for their continued healing from the immense trauma they incurred. We are grateful to the various law enforcement agencies, first responders, and community groups that worked throughout the day for the safety of the hostages. And we pray that the day will come when every person in this country and throughout the world can pray in their houses of worship without fear.

David Schuman