School districts across Long Island have elevated their security after Hamas call for worldwide protests. NewsdayTV's Virginia Huie reports.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

Despite fears that a Hamas call for pro-Palestinian protests worldwide could threaten local schools and houses of worship, Long Island police said the school day went on without incident Friday, while Gov. Kathy Hochul directed state colleges and universities to increase security for Jewish students who gathered for evening prayers.

Nassau and Suffolk county police departments both indicated Friday afternoon they had not received any credible threats but nevertheless had boosted patrols of synagogues, schools and other religious institutions.

A spokesperson for Nassau County police said the department also put into place "specialty units," such as canine and SWAT, and detectives went to places of worship and schools throughout the county.

In a statement, the Suffolk County Police Department said its "Criminal Intelligence Section detectives, in conjunction with the New York State Police, are in communication with members of Jewish and Muslim religious institutions in Suffolk and the department has boosted surveillance and patrols in and around synagogues, schools and other religious institutions."   

The department added that it established rapid response teams to be used in the event of a violent protest or significant event.

About 50 rabbis met with Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and County Executive Bruce Blakeman Thursday to discuss security concerns.

Meanwhile, on SUNY campuses, Hochul said in a release that Chancellor John B. King Jr. directed all state-operated campuses this weekend to increase security for on-campus and off-campus Shabbat services from university police and the NYPD.

“While there is no credible threat to New York at this time, we are increasing law enforcement presence to ensure Jewish New Yorkers can safely gather and observe Shabbat services,” Hochul said in a news release Friday afternoon.

In Manhattan, pro-Palestinian protests marched from Times Square to the Israeli consulate Friday evening, accompanied by a heavy NYPD presence.

Both Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison and Ryder notified local schools of the online call from a former Hamas chief for a "global jihad" and pro-Palestinian protests Friday, amid the Israel-Hamas war, and said they would provide heightened security to school officials, religious institutions and community groups to assuage fears. 

John Murphy, South Huntington School District deputy superintendent, said in an interview: "Like with anything, a threat is a threat. Because it’s so ominous and because it’s something no one knows where, we’re a little more vigilant.”

Port Washington Schools Superintendent Michael J. Hynes told parents in a letter that Ryder had notified the district in his own letter of a "widely circulating national social media post" and in response, the district had an increased police presence and security staffing in its schools.

Great Neck school Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said in  an Oct. 12 letter that "a small number of modifications to various functions" were made in a few schools "out of an abundance of caution." 

East Meadow Superintendent Kenneth Rosner shared Ryder's letter with parents and said in his own letter the school district upgraded security on Friday. Rosner and other superintendents urged parents to monitor their child's social media activity, concerned about graphic images from the Mideast conflict.

At pickup time outside W. Tresper Clarke High School in Westbury, which is in the East Meadow district, Allyson Benowitz of Westbury was waiting for her 15-year-old twin boys to emerge. She praised Rosner's letter.

"I thought it was thoughtful, and I thought it was necessary," Benowitz said.

As for what her boys might  see on social media about the war, Benowitz said: "It's on Instagram. It's on TikTok. It's everywhere. So I'd have to be naive to say, 'No, they're not watching it.' I try to explain to them my beliefs and what's going on, and I try to make sure they're not afraid, but honestly, we're all afraid. It's a crazy world. We just have to do the best we can."

With Virginia Huie

Despite fears that a Hamas call for pro-Palestinian protests worldwide could threaten local schools and houses of worship, Long Island police said the school day went on without incident Friday, while Gov. Kathy Hochul directed state colleges and universities to increase security for Jewish students who gathered for evening prayers.

Nassau and Suffolk county police departments both indicated Friday afternoon they had not received any credible threats but nevertheless had boosted patrols of synagogues, schools and other religious institutions.

A spokesperson for Nassau County police said the department also put into place "specialty units," such as canine and SWAT, and detectives went to places of worship and schools throughout the county.

In a statement, the Suffolk County Police Department said its "Criminal Intelligence Section detectives, in conjunction with the New York State Police, are in communication with members of Jewish and Muslim religious institutions in Suffolk and the department has boosted surveillance and patrols in and around synagogues, schools and other religious institutions."   

The department added that it established rapid response teams to be used in the event of a violent protest or significant event.

About 50 rabbis met with Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and County Executive Bruce Blakeman Thursday to discuss security concerns.

Meanwhile, on SUNY campuses, Hochul said in a release that Chancellor John B. King Jr. directed all state-operated campuses this weekend to increase security for on-campus and off-campus Shabbat services from university police and the NYPD.

“While there is no credible threat to New York at this time, we are increasing law enforcement presence to ensure Jewish New Yorkers can safely gather and observe Shabbat services,” Hochul said in a news release Friday afternoon.

In Manhattan, pro-Palestinian protests marched from Times Square to the Israeli consulate Friday evening, accompanied by a heavy NYPD presence.

Both Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison and Ryder notified local schools of the online call from a former Hamas chief for a "global jihad" and pro-Palestinian protests Friday, amid the Israel-Hamas war, and said they would provide heightened security to school officials, religious institutions and community groups to assuage fears. 

John Murphy, South Huntington School District deputy superintendent, said in an interview: "Like with anything, a threat is a threat. Because it’s so ominous and because it’s something no one knows where, we’re a little more vigilant.”

Port Washington Schools Superintendent Michael J. Hynes told parents in a letter that Ryder had notified the district in his own letter of a "widely circulating national social media post" and in response, the district had an increased police presence and security staffing in its schools.

Great Neck school Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said in  an Oct. 12 letter that "a small number of modifications to various functions" were made in a few schools "out of an abundance of caution." 

East Meadow Superintendent Kenneth Rosner shared Ryder's letter with parents and said in his own letter the school district upgraded security on Friday. Rosner and other superintendents urged parents to monitor their child's social media activity, concerned about graphic images from the Mideast conflict.

At pickup time outside W. Tresper Clarke High School in Westbury, which is in the East Meadow district, Allyson Benowitz of Westbury was waiting for her 15-year-old twin boys to emerge. She praised Rosner's letter.

"I thought it was thoughtful, and I thought it was necessary," Benowitz said.

As for what her boys might  see on social media about the war, Benowitz said: "It's on Instagram. It's on TikTok. It's everywhere. So I'd have to be naive to say, 'No, they're not watching it.' I try to explain to them my beliefs and what's going on, and I try to make sure they're not afraid, but honestly, we're all afraid. It's a crazy world. We just have to do the best we can."

With Virginia Huie

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