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SLO Jewish community considers increased security at Central Coast synagogues

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 22:54:18-04

On the same day victims of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue were laid to rest, the Jewish community of the Central Coast met with San Luis Obispo law enforcement to discuss ways to improve safety.

“Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples all have that fine line to find balance between keeping a place sacred and open and protecting it,” said Jewish Community Center Federation of San Luis Obispo County Exec. Director Lauren Bandari.

Bandari and leaders of synagogues across the Central Coast convened Wednesday to identify gaps in safety at their temples, just days after a gunman opened fire on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“I think just even adding a line item to our budgets for security is one thing,” Bandari said.

Bandari said surveillance cameras, guards and locks were all discussed as possible options.

President Donald Trump implied Saturday that mass shootings at places of worship could be stopped if the congregation was armed.

“If they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could’ve been a much different situation,” Trump said. “But they didn’t.”

Police have said that the gunman, who was indicted Wednesday on 44 counts including 11 counts of murder, ultimately surrendered after a gunfight with law enforcement.

Bandari did not suggest guns in the temple as a solution during an interview Wednesday, but a rabbi in Connecticut wants to arm worshippers.

“Whoever has a license for carrying their guns, needs to do it, even in Shabbat,” Rabbi Eli Tal told NBC reporters.

Bandari, who noted that anti-semitic rhetoric and threats have been previously directed at Jews on the Central Coast, said community watchdogs can save lives.

“If you see something, if you see a Facebook post that’s antisemitic, report it,” Bandari said.

The Jewish community is considering expanding its upcoming Hannukah celebration to unite the entire San Luis Obispo community in solidarity and help educate people about the religion.