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Springfield Jewish Leaders Respond to Anti-Semitic Acts

Springfield Jewish community leaders say they are on heightened alert for any potential attacks after a series of anti-Semitic acts across the country. (WRSP)

Springfield Jewish community leaders say they are on heightened alert for any potential attacks after a series of anti-Semitic acts and bomb threats at Jewish centers and synagogues across the country.

Springfield Rabbi Barry Marks is writing a temple newsletter on recent acts of antisemitism. Those acts include busting windows and drawing a swastika at a synagogue in Chicago, one his temple takes young students to on trips.

"It's threatening,” Marks said. “It shakes your sense of security. It certainly makes me angry.”

This weekend in nearby St. Louis, more than 200 cemetery headstones were vandalized.

"It breaks our hearts and it causes concern," Springfield Jewish Federation Director Nancy Sage said.

Sage says these weren't isolated incidents.

"We are seeing a rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the country, so we are concerned and we are extra aware."

Jewish leaders say they've seen people reach out to them from both inside and outside the Jewish community.

"We're all for fostering inter-group relations and really countering any type of bigotry or prejudice," Marks said.

"Questions are you aware, or we feel so terrible, what can we do in Springfield, we're very fortunate in Springfield at this point," Sage said.

Rabbi Marks says nobody has directed anti-Semitic acts toward his temple in 30 years, but he doesn't take that for granted.

"We'd like to think in a smaller community, we're not as vulnerable, but who knows. You don't know, and you have to be vigilant."

The Jewish Federation says they are constantly evaluating and updating their security procedures for local synagogues, so while they are on heightened alert, they haven't had to make any security changes.

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