Security at synagogues tightened for Jewish festivals this month

SynagoguePolice said they had eceived an alert on a possible attack on synagogues two months ago

With Jews in the city expected to attend synagogues in large numbers on September 26 and 27 to mark Simchat Torah (change of cycle of public readings of their holy book Torah), the city police has tightened the security infrastructure around synagogues. Mumbai Police has improved on the security measures in all Jewish centres after the Chabad House was targeted during the Mumbai 26/11 attack.

According to officials, the Mumbai Police had received an alert on a possible attack on synagogues two months ago. "Since then, we have stationed two constables outside every synagogue. Senior inspectors and deputy commissioners of police have visited each location and beefed up security," said Krishna Prakash, Additional Commissioner of Police, south region.

Since the last two months, each synagogue has also been asked to maintain a register where every police team that patrols and surveys the synagogue registers its comments and records their visit. The zonal commissoners are monitoring the entries in the register to ensure accountability of the patrolling team.

Praskash added that an advisory had also been issued to synagogues to control access. "We asked them to place door frame metal detectors and ensure that each person entering is frisked," he said.

A zonal commissioner said security is beefed up in September as the highest number of Jewish festivals are in this month.

"During Simchat Torah, we have a joyous procession around the synagogue which is brightly lit. We then renew the reading process starting with the Book of Genesis," said Jonathan Solomon, chairperson of the Indian Jewish Federation. Soloman added that the security was in place and they did not want to create problems for locals due to extra security personnel.

"We are concerned about the security threat considering we have good relations with the local community in Mumbai. We perceive a foreign threat but there is no distrust with the locals. One thing is that we are praying harder. It is a danger that bothers us and we are taking routine precautions but there is a limit to what an ordinary person and institution can do in a city like Mumbai. So we have put up CCTV cameras and taken other such steps. However, we do not want to be counter-productive through these security measures based on an advisory and drive away the people. We feel secure in the round-the-clock support we have been receiving from the police for so many years now," said Solomon.

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