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Hostage attack at Texas synagogue sheds light on safety in places of worship

As acts of anti-Semitism are up in the U.S., a member of the clergy for a Waco Jewish temple says the need for security has escalated.

WACO, Texas — The hostage attack at a Texas synagogue has renewed fears of increasing anti-Semitism in the United States and now places of worship are making sure they're prepared.

It was a situation that the whole world was watching, four people, including a Rabbi, held hostage by a man who has now been identified as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, a British national.

Fortunately, all four hostages are unharmed and alive today.

The individuals are crediting their safety to security courses, which Cantor Monica O'Desky of the Temple Rodef Sholom says are becoming necessary.

"Lately, I think the need has escalated," she said. "The people don't realize the amount of anti-Semitic threats and things that are going on in the country right now that are very frightening, very frightening."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) group says there were more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment last year in the United States which is up 12 percent from the previous year.

O'Desky said this time around it hit too close to home and it's shedding light on the bigger problem.

"To get people aware that this isn't isolated," O'Desky said. "You start looking over the past number of years and this isn't isolated. It's going on more and more; the bigger cities are having a real problem."

The increased senseless acts of hatred have forced those in the Jewish faith to be more on guard and prepared.

"We've started taking some measures and talked about sending select individuals to do some more higher end training," O'Desky added. "There is always armed security that are from part of the the police out there."

Religion aside, O'Desky wants everyone to learn from the senseless act in North Texas.

"They need to start looking at the humanity in every one again," she explained. "These are all individual human beings with wants and needs and and the breath of god in them. They all need to come together as a human family, not just as a group with a label on it."

She says as they move forward as a congregation, they will have more open discussions about security measures, and like other congregations, have some type of healing.

The problem, the issue of hatred isn't going to be resolved in a day.

The ADL has also called on congress to double funding for the federal emergency management agency's nonprofit security grant program, which provides Jewish schools and houses of worship, with much-needed assistance to bolster security.