Jewish Schools hope for security funding amid threats

Posted at 10:54 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-19 06:20:24-04

Jewish leaders in Southwest Florida are hopeful the funding Governor Rick Scott is proposing for security measures at Day Schools is approved after anti-Semitic incidents and threats have increased.

The proposed funding would pay for video cameras, fences, bullet-proof glass, and other safety equipment for Jewish schools.

"The Jewish community has always faced threats," Rabbi Nicole Luna of Temple Beth El in Fort Myers said. "we've always had the need for security. Instances Anti-Semitism, of hatred, and bigotry."

Rabbi Luna said she feels fortunate Governor Scott is proposing a million dollars in security funding for security and counter-terrorism upgrades.

The Anti-Defamation league reports Anti-Semitic incidents have gone up 86% comparing the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017.

Last year, a sign outside of Temple Shalom in Naples was shot. A temple in Sarasota was recently vandalized and multiple Jewish Centers in Orlando faced bomb threats.

"It certainly makes us nervous, and we have improved our security here at Temple Beth El," Rabbi Luna said.

The temple has motion-detection lights, surveillance cameras, doors that lock automatically with codes or doorbells to enter.

Republican Congressman Francis Rooney met with Rabbi Luna and her students Wednesday afternoon to discuss what they've dealt with as Jews in southwest Florida and hear their experiences with Anti-Semitism. 

"We have a duty to protect our religious institutions and our kids, and if these people can get away with perpetrating these horrible crimes, it'll just aid and encourage the bad ones to do more," Rooney said.

Earlier in the year, Governor Scott provided more than $650,000 in security funding for Jewish Day Schools. If his current proposal is approved, it will be for the 2018-2019 budget.