Friday, March 20, 2015

UK: The synagogues in London are all behind gates

The Tablet reports (H/T Elder of Ziyon):

When I visited Manchester, shortly after the Paris attacks, nerves in the community were still on edge and there was much discussion of people moving to Israel and also of increased security measures. At Broughton Jewish Primary School there were two guards on the door instead of the usual one. At other schools in the area there was talk of hiring post-army Israeli security guards: The feeling was that IDF-trained soldiers might stand a better chance of protecting them from masked gunmen who might show up to kill their children, the same way that Jewish children were being killed by Islamist gunmen in France. Some schools were also holding drills to prepare the children for the possibility of an attack. Synagogues such as Sunnybank in Bury and the Prestwich Hebrew Congregation were in discussions over spending large sums of money on building high-security fences to protect their congregants.

Security has always been a part of Jewish life in Britain. Synagogues here have had guards on the door since the threat of Palestinian terrorism in Europe became prevalent in the 1970s. The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity founded in 1994, is now a professional organization that involves 60 permanent employees and thousands of volunteers in its work. But there is currently a renewed sense that the community is drawing inward in response to outward hostility, and some are starting to erect higher barriers, physical and mental, between themselves and an outside world that bristles with ever more ominous and immediate threats. Volunteers who do synagogue security duty now receive special CST briefings in which they are told to “do what they can” to delay an attacker, buying those inside the shul time to lock the doors.

One rabbi I spoke to has invested in surveillance cameras to monitor the space outside his synagogue, which already has grills over all the windows. “The synagogues in London are all behind gates,” he said. “Increasingly the ones in Manchester are too, and these days the gates are all closed.” More.

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