NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) — The FBI warned of a broad, credible threat against New Jersey synagogues on Thursday.
The FBI asked people to take full security precautions to protect their community and buildings. Proactive measures have been put into place while the FBI continues to investigate, the agency confirmed on Twitter.
Specific details about the threat were not released. PIX11 left a message with the FBI’s branch in New Jersey but did not receive a response.
Gov. Phill Murphy said he has been in touch with New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin, the state’s Homeland Security office, and the FBI.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and are working with local law enforcement to ensure that all houses of worship are protected,” Murphy tweeted.
Several hundred thousand Jews live in northern New Jersey alone. One of the worst hate attacks in recent memory took place in Hudson County in 2019, when two assailants motivated by anti-Jewish hate killed three people in a kosher market in Jersey City, including a police officer.
Evan Bernstein was at the 2019 shooting. He is the head of Community Security Service, an organization that trains Jewish volunteers to protect their synagogues and community.
“We want people to be engaged in their own security. No one is going to care more about their friends and family inside a synagogue than a volunteer,” said Bernstein. “Once you’re trained, you’re not going to undo that training. You can bring it to the synagogue, to the kosher market, to the mall, bring it anywhere they feel could be a potential threat.”
Statistics gathered by the Anti-Defamation League show there were more than 2,700 incidents against Jews nationwide last year. That is the highest since the ADL began tracking hate attacks. There were 416 incidents in New York and 370 in New Jersey.
In Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop said police would be posted at the city’s seven synagogues and foot patrols would be added in the broader Jewish community.
“When a threat like this comes out, it’s important that we disseminate that quickly to our volunteers so they can be ready,” said Bernstein. “We always have our volunteers be at high alert because you don’t know when a threat is going to take place.”
Jason Shames, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, said they are on high alert.
“I just want to implore the Jewish community to be vigilant to say something if they see something, to be in touch with local law enforcement,” said Shames. “Take this seriously when it comes from the FBI.”
AG Platkin said in a statement that police presence will be heightened in some areas:
Law enforcement will be increasing patrols in sensitive areas. Some of these patrols will be in marked vehicles and others will not – but please do not be alarmed if you observe an increase in police presence as we are taking these steps in an abundance of caution. We also call upon New Jersey residents to be extra vigilant and if you see suspicious activity please report it to your local authorities without delay.
The threat came after Kyrie Irving, who is from the Garden State and plays for the Brooklyn Nets, posted on his Twitter a link for the antisemitic film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” Kanye West has also recently made antisemitic statements.
“Rhetoric is a motivator for people at times, and so Kanye and Kyrie should not be left off the hook because their statements were simply statements,” said Shames. “What it does is motivate others, it incites others, it’s unacceptable and it’s disgusting.”
“We continue to work together to keep New Jersey safe and let those who would bring harm to the residents of this state know that New Jersey will not be home to hate, intolerance or violence,” said Platkin.
The NYPD has been working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI to ensure the Jewish communities in New York City and the rest of the tri-state area are protected, according to a statement from NYPD.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.