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Area Jewish leaders react to recent hostage situation at Texas synagogue

The hostage situation in Texas over the weekend has shaken many Jewish communities. Newswatch 16's Elizabeth Worthington shows us how synagogues are responding.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Rabbi Daniel Swartz from Temple Hesed in Scranton says after an incident like the hostage situation in Texas this past weekend or the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018, his congregants come to him with questions.

He said, "They'll ask sometimes specific questions like, you know, what are we doing about X, Y and Z? And those are the easy ones to answer. The harder ones are, 'Why is there antisemitism? What has gone on for thousands of years that people do this?'"

Everyone made it out of the synagogue safely on Saturday, after an hours-long standoff.

The gunman was killed by a rescue team.

But the FBI warned on Monday, houses of worship will likely remain targets of violence.

Rabbi Swartz says he never thought he'd see the day where armed guards or police officers were stationed outside houses of worship.

But whenever there's a large event at Temple Hesed in Scranton, he makes sure he has security.

"It's really a very different world. And it's sad, you know, I mean, it's called the sanctuary because it's supposed to be a safe place, right?" said Rabbi Swartz.

"It's unfortunate. We shouldn't have to. I grew up in an age when we never thought twice about worrying when we went to a community center or went to a synagogue," said David Fallk from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Fallk says he's seen antisemitism grow dramatically over the last five years.

"If you look at the statistics, most of the hate crimes that have been documented by the Anti-Defamation League or by the FBI and these organizations, it's disproportionately affecting the Jewish community," added Fallk.

Both Fallk and Rabbi Swartz agree the solution is not to stop attending services or gathering with other members of your faith. That's how fear and hatred win.