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Police, public safety patrols around synagogues increased for Yom Kippur

Authorities said there are no specific threats, but "extra sets of eyes" will allow families to worship in peace on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Local police and public safety officers are stepping up patrols around synagogues for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people.

The Day of Atonement, which for the faithful involves 25 hours of fasting and deep prayer, starts Tuesday at sunset and ends Wednesday at sunset.

The Town of Hempstead has instructed its public safety officers to pay special attention to the Jewish houses of worship, said Supervisor Laura Gillen.

"While thousands in our community observe the high holy days, we stand firm and stand together in our commitment to stay alert and ever vigilant,” Gillen said. “These patrols, which have direct lines of communications to other law enforcement partners, serve as extra sets of eyes during the most important part of the year for so many in our community."

Suffolk County police said they have been increasing patrols throughout September for both Jewish and Muslim holidays at synagogues, mosques and other religious buildings.

Nassau County police said they had no information available.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), whose district includes the heavily Jewish Five Towns, said many synagogues there are supplementing police patrols with their own private security.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that the area could be seen as a major metropolitan target for someone who wishes to harm or commit an act of terrorism on the Jewish community,” he said.

Still, he added, “I certainly don’t think the average person should feel unsafe or should change their behavior,” he said. People should “go worship in peace with their families. But it is good to know that law enforcement is looking over our shoulders.”

Kaminsky and Gillen said they did not know of any specific threats to synagogues on Long Island.

The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 57 percent nationally from 2016 to 2017.

In Long Beach, where patrols are also being stepped up, City Council Vice President Chumi Diamond said, "At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, we must ensure that our houses of worship are safe this holiday season.”

After a series of bomb threats on Long Island last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced $2.1 million for security upgrades at 45 Jewish schools and day care centers.

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