OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – With the Israel-Hamas conflict raging on in the Middle East, some synagogues in the Bay Area are taking extra precautions. Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland says they are stepping up security and asking police for help.
The Temple hasn’t received any direct threats yet, but leaders there say it’s important to take precautions. What they’re most concerned about at this point is vandalism.
Rabbi Mark Bloom has worked at Temple Beth Abraham on Macarthur Boulevard in Oakland, not far from Lake Merritt, for 22 years. He says over that time, he’s learned that problems in Israel can have a smaller, but still potentially dangerous effect at home.
“We know historically when there are problems in the Middle East, tensions rise here as well, so that has contributed to some vandalism in the past,” he said.
He says the temple’s members started asking for upgraded safety measures as soon as the first attack happened, so temple leaders contacted Oakland police.
“They are coming, they’re driving by, they’re staging in our parking lot doing their work there,” Bloom said. “They’ve been very patient, helpful and kind about the potential of any problem that could come up – trying to prevent them before they happen.”
Rabbi Bloom just returned to Temple Beth Abraham after a four-month sabbatical where he lived in Jerusalem from March through July.
“It’s one of the safest places on the planet, but now it really is unsafe and it’s scary,” he said. “Places I’ve been and visited have been destroyed.”
He struggles to watch this all of this unfold from afar.
“People I know have lost children and relatives. It’s really, really disturbing to see what we’re seeing,” he said.
Rabbi Bloom says while security is certainly a concern, their biggest focus is providing sympathy and understanding to those in Israel.