Pittsburgh Synagogues Fear G-20 Violence On Jewish Holidays

| August 23, 2009

PITTSBURGH — The religious holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be bookended around the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh next month, and some in the city’s Jewish community fear they could be singled out for violence by protesters.

The G-20 is scheduled for Sept. 24-25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. Some protestors have acted out with violence during past G-20 summits in other major cities.

"We’re concerned. We have historically seen over the years that the summit attracts a lot of protestors," said Joel Goldstein, executive director of Tree of Life in Squirrel Hill.
Six of Pittsburgh’s largest synagogues — including Tree of Life — are in City Council District 5, and Goldstein told WTAE Channel 4’s Sheldon Ingram that they expect to fill up during the Jewish "high holidays."

"We’re concerned with that many Jewish people being together in one place in a house of worship — 750 people, a thousand people — that we’ll become a target," Goldstein said.
Concern is not confined to worshipers. It’s spreading to the Jewish University Center in Oakland.

"We serve 5,000 students on the campuses — graduates and undergraduates," said Susan Berman, of the Jewish University Center.
The synagogues say they have assurance that Pittsburgh police will provide off-duty officers for them to hire during the religious holidays — something they call a worthy expense.

"The police department tries to assign people who are already working in this zone, and so they are familiar with the resources and streets of this area," Goldstein said. "We’re interested in keeping our congregants calm and feeling safe."

"We know that there will be political activism surrounding the events of the G-20 and we don’t want our students or employees to feel anxious about it," Berman said.
The Pittsburgh Police Bureau will not discuss specific details of G-20 security plans, but Ingram reported that if protesters show up at synagogues, they will encounter not just worshipers but uniformed police officers too.




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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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