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Incident at the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center Highlights Security Concerns as Jewish New Year Services Begin Friday

Published on Friday, September 15, 2023 | 5:56 am

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Friday amid efforts to protect against threats to Jewish institutions, with antisemitic incidents in Southern California at a record high, including an ongoing spate of swatting.

Swatting is a criminal harassment tactic of hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher into sending a law enforcement response team to another person’s or organization’s address, using means such as saying there is a bomb threat, a hostage situation or saying a person is suicidal or homicidal and may or may not be armed.

The Altadena Sheriff’s Station was informed Tuesday that someone was on the campus of the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center in the unincorporated Altadena area with a rifle, holed up in a bathroom and threatening to commit suicide.

Deputies arrived at the scene, evacuated the B’nai Simcha Community Preschool and then the synagogue while they inspected the center’s campus and determined there was no actual threat, according to the Altadena Sheriff’s Station.

In August, the Anti-Defamation League of Los Angeles and Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles announced the formation of the Southern California Jewish Security Alliance, a partnership to better prevent and respond to antisemitism in the region.

The ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents issued in March found that in the four counties comprising its Los Angeles Region — Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern — there were 237 recorded incidents in 2022, a 30% increase from the 182 reported in 2021, including 143 incidents of harassment, a 38% increase from the 104 reported in 2021; 86 incidents of vandalism of businesses, places of worship and schools, a 34% increase from the 64 reported in 2021; and eight incidents of assault, a 43% decrease from the 14 reported in 2021.

“These record-setting figures make clear that there has not just been a surge of antisemitism, there is an unfortunate and unmistakable trendline that antisemitism is deeply embedded and growing in every part of society,” ADL Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey I. Abrams said.

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