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Arizona lawmaker wants increased security at synagogues

Posted at 2:56 PM, Jan 20, 2022

PHOENIX — An Arizona state representative plans to introduce a bill that would help pay for security at religious places.

The proposal comes after two people, including a rabbi, were taken hostage at a synagogue in Texas.

She said she plans to file the bill in the coming weeks.

"We can't have services and we can't really gather if we don't have security," said state Rep. Alma Hernandez.

Hernandez is part of the Jewish community and said she's seen an increase in hate crimes against people for being Jewish.

"We shouldn't shy away and say it's not a problem, this was because of another reason -- we know why it's going on and we need to do a better job and say enough is enough," Hernandez said.

Between 2010 and 2020, there were more than 200 antisemitic crimes in Arizona, according to the FBI.

Hernandez told ABC15 her synagogue in Tucson was vandalized last year.

"They broke our front window, that was troubling for me," she said.

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, a local rabbi is concerned his congregation could be a target.

"[The suspect in Texas] targeted a random, out of nowhere synagogue that really isn't that large," said Rabbi Jeffrey Lipschultz with the Beth Emeth Congregation.

He said he would support any help from the state government.

"Our community has asked to increase security -- the simple fact is we can't afford it," Lipschultz added.

Lipschultz said what happened in Texas highlights the need for training and security.

"This was just a random synagogue in the middle of nowhere with a quiet rabbi and a quiet community and you know what, it could happen here."

Hernandez told ABC15 she's still working on the bill's language but has seen other places use grants to help offset security costs at religious buildings.