‘It’s got to stop’: Local places of worship react to deadly synagogue shooting in San Diego

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Two days after a deadly shooting at a San Diego County Synagogue, California is pledging millions of dollars to protect religious congregations and other organizations targeted by hate crimes.

Governor Gavin Newsom says he’ll be setting aside $15,000,000 to strengthen security at places of worship.

He said: “An attack against any community is an attack against the entire state.”

The additional funding will be part of proposed budget revisions in May.

“It’s got to stop,” said Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel.

Just as the Jewish community was starting to recover from last October’s terrorist attack at a synagogue in Pittsburg, another deadly attack happened six months to the day at a San Diego-area synagogue.

One person was killed on Saturday and three others were injured. 

“Shocked, horrified, yes… but it’s happening all too often,” Rabbi Winer explained.

He says Temple Beth Israel in Fresno has been stepping up safety measures in recent years.

On Monday, a sign was posted to the temple doors asking that flowers, packages, and gifts not be left for security purposes.

“If people think this can’t happen in Fresno, it can,” Rabbi Winer added. “We’ve been attacked. Fortunately, it was small property damage.”

The letters of the word Israel from their front wall were torn down in a hate-crime after the attack in Pittsburg.

On Monday, Governor Newsom announced his commitment to help faith-based organizations strengthen their security systems.

“We are united as a state condemning hate, condemning anti-Semitism,” Governor Newsom said.

Recent data from the State Attorney General’s Office reveals there were more than 1,000 hate crimes in 2017 marking a more than 17% increase from the previous year.

The Unitarian-Universalist Church of Fresno was also previously a target of threats due to its political stances and Black Lives Matter sign. 

“It is a relatively new thing for most churches to have to think about how to protect your congregates,” said Rev. Tim Kutzmark of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Fresno.

Simple words on the sidewalk that lead to the church doors say: “We affirm that love is the doctrine of this church.”

It’s a reminder that local faith-based organizations are trying to see the positive during yet another time of hurt. 

“It’s important to protect ourselves but it’s important to remember that there is so much love and goodness in people in this world,” Rev. Kutzmark said.

“We have to find ways to bring people together to focus on the beauty, the love,” Rabbi Winer concluded.

Both places of worship we spoke with could not go into detail of their security measures but said they’ve trained and worked with police and FBI.

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