Temple works on being secure, but welcoming

| February 22, 2010

IRONDEQUOIT — The community at Temple Beth David is trying to use a bad experience to bring about positive change, the temple's president said Friday.

Since a man entered the temple Feb. 6 and allegedly exposed himself to several children and sexually abused a 9-year-old girl, the community has increased its security measures and is trying to focus on how to be a "welcoming but secure" community, said President Martin Presberg.

Irondequoit police charged Orlando Colon, 25, with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony. He is accused of entering the Jewish temple at 3200 St. Paul Blvd. about noon that day, participating in services, then going into a basement classroom with children. The children later reported the incident to parents who called police. Colon is in Monroe County Jail without bail pending a presentation of his case to a Monroe County grand jury.

Presberg said Colon was not a member of the temple, and the only contact the temple had had with him was when he had called prior to his visit to ask about service times.

The challenge Presberg's group now faces is to try to remain open to new visitors but keep members and their children safe.

In a letter to temple members on Feb. 7, Presberg said the temple would take the following steps to prevent future problems:

# Obtain a court order prohibiting Colon from returning to the temple.

# Use the current welcoming policy as a security measure and "individuals who are unknown to the community will be supervised so that they are not left alone in the building or with children at any time."

# Prohibit children from going downstairs at any time without active supervision from an adult that they know well.

# Share facts of the incident and the temple's response with other local temples and local faith communities.

To the last point, Presberg said he distributed the letter to other local synagogues and a church and school nearby.

Presberg said this is the first incident of this type at the temple in its 50-year history, and his community has come together in a new way.

"The community has really pulled together to support the families and we remain strong," he said.



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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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