Security remains a concern at NJ synagogues

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

This is what hate looks like — a swastika and “Kill Jews” on the side of the Airport Diner last year in Wantage, Sussex County. At the Chabad Jewish Center in Franklin Lakes, Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan says security is a concern.

“In general, I think that law enforcement does an excellent job looking out for our well-being and our safety and our security. However, as recent events have shown both locally and also around the world, it doesn’t take much for one person to cause terrible havoc and to really exact a tremendous toll on the civilian population,” said Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan.

Wantage and Franklin Lakes are in Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s district. He held a roundtable Monday afternoon in Paramus to address issues of anti-Semitism and hate crimes.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents rose 32 percent in New Jersey last year. Anti-Muslim incidents dropped 17 percent, but still took place about once a week.

Nationally, said Gottheimer, anti-Semitic acts and hate rose even more than in New Jersey.

“Overall, according to the ADL, there number of anti-Semitic incidents rose 57 percent between 2016 and 2017. It’s the largest single year increase on record, and the second highest number reported sincethe ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s,” Gottheimer said.

With the congressman were two FBI agents and New Jersey’s Homeland Security Director Jared Maples, who thanked the congressman for the $4 million in grants he secured for security at houses of worship.

“We do see real impact from those dollars, whether it be hardening the targets themselves, doors, locks, cameras, overtime for security personnel, etc. It’s something we push out. It’s all available on,” said Maples.

The agents were from the FBI’s Newark office. They look for lone wolf ISIS sympathizers, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others. Be aware of suspicious-looking people, they told this crowd.

“They’re going to take a look at your location and see how easy it is to get in and out. When I came here, there’s good security here, when I come to an event where’s there’s a group, naturally I’m looking for entry and exit points, maybe at the people in the group, and I want to see who is here who maybe doesn’t look like they should be here,” said FBI Special Agent Anthony Zampagna.

“Individuals don’t always report these things for one reason or another. We just want to instill in all of our community groups and members that we work with that we are here, and that if something does happen, report it,” said FBI Special Agent Carly Rasierwicz.

It’s good to know the FBI and the Office of Homeland Security are tracking these incidents of hate and intolerance. It’s a shame that the number of incidents, particularly against Jews, appears to be on the rise.