Poway Chabad leader Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was shot in the hands, walks towards a press conference with Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, April 28, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Sandy Huffaker-AFP-Getty Images)
Poway Chabad leader Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was shot in the hands, walks towards a press conference with Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, April 28, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Sandy Huffaker-AFP-Getty Images)

Homeland Security issues recommendations to protect religious communities

The acting Homeland Security secretary has ordered agency heads to implement recommendations by an internal advisory committee for preventing violence against religious communities.

The order was issued by acting Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday in a memo in the wake of the attack last week on a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

“The right to practice religion free of interference or fear is one of our nation’s most fundamental and indelible rights. As such, the targeting of houses of worship by violent extremists of any ideology is particularly abhorrent and must be prevented,” Wolf wrote.

He gave the agency heads 14 days to review the recommendations and suggest plans to implement them.

The advisory committee was formed in May 2019, following a string of attacks against synagogues, churches, temples, and mosques. Its final report was submitted in mid-December.

The report found training, resources and coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement “inconsistent” and “unlevel.” It also recommends Congress increase security grant money for faith-based organizations.

Meanwhile, an intelligence document issued Friday by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center called on federal, state and local authorities “to remain vigilant in light of the enduring threat to Jewish communities posed by domestic violent extremists and perpetrators of hate crimes,” ABC News first reported.

The document cited four deadly attacks against Jewish communities since October 2018 in Monsey, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; Poway, California; and Pittsburgh.

“We remain concerned that other U.S.-based individuals … could become inspired by these attacks and carry out further violence against Jewish communities,” the document said.

Marcy Oster
Marcy Oster

Israel-based JTA correspondent

JTA

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