BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — In the last few years, Jason Dice has been to more than 180 synagogues across Los Angeles.
What You Need To Know
- Synagogues across Southern California are stepping up their security following an attack on a synagogue in Texas
- The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has been sending its security director to assess vulnerabilities in local synagogues
- According to a new report, LA saw a 59% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2021
- Community leaders are worried about a copycat case, which experts say tends to happen within the first two weeks following an assault
Dice recently scoped out a congregation in Beverly Hills.
“I’m just looking basically to see if there’s any pre-incident indicators around the area, not only of crime, but of nefarious activity going on,” he said.
A former Marine, Dice is a security director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, a nonprofit that combats anti-Semitism. He has been using his military training to help synagogues assess their vulnerabilities.
Spectrum News 1 was asked not to mention the synagogue by name for security reasons. But at this recent evaluation, Dice had some reservations about the facility’s doors.
“I’m taking a look at the main entry and exit way to see how vulnerable is,” he said. “We all know that glass is not the best item to have doors made of. As a matter of fact, you don’t want glass within 40 inches of a locking mechanism so that way somebody can’t knock the glass out and easily open the door.”
These days, Dice’s phone is ringing off the hook after a man held four people hostage at a synagogue just outside Dallas. The perpetrator was killed by the FBI. Thankfully, no one else was hurt.
It’s not just Texas. According to a new report, LA saw a 59% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2021.
Rabbi Noah Faraks, president of the Jewish Federation, said that lately, the attacks have gotten a lot more violent.
“It’s not just someone painting a Swastika or leaving a flier, or what have you,” he said. They’re actually beginning to harm people.”
And that’s a worry for Robyn Lewis, the synagogue’s executive director. At least 10% of her budget these days goes to security. Ever since the Texas attack, she explained, her congregation has been on edge.
“It really is a personal thing. When Jews are attacked, I feel like every Jew in the community takes it very personally,” she said.
- ‘This was not some random occurrence’: FBI investigating Texas hostage standoff as act of terror
- 2 men arrested by UK police over Texas synagogue hostage-taking
- Rabbi Steve Leder on Texas synagogue hostage standoff, rising anti-Semitism in U.S.
- Texas rabbi: Captor grew 'belligerent' late in standoff
For Dice, the biggest worry is a copycat case, which he says tends to happen within the first two weeks following an assault. To that end, the Jewish Federation has been installing alert systems that warn congregants of an active attack in their area.
The blinking light, called Shabbos Link, can be seen throughout the synagogue for those congregants who don’t use electronics during the Sabbath.
Dice has installed several of these devices in the LA area. So far, none have been used, and Dice hopes they never will be.
“In a perfect world, they won’t need these services," he said. "I would love to see us get to that point."