Security was stepped up at synagogues across New York on Saturday and the Jewish community was on alert after authorities intercepted explosives bound for Chicago houses of worship.
In Brooklyn, some members of the Orthodox community were unaware of the terror threat since they had not read the newspaper, watched television or listened to the radio in observance of the Sabbath.
However, word was spreading quickly that Jewish centers in Chicago were believed to be the target of the potentially deadly packages found in the United Kingdom and Dubai and that the NYPD was beefing up security.
“It’s always related to a Jewish organization,” said Yehuda Eber, 43, who was attending a service at Chabad Lubavitch in Crown Heights, where NYPD patrol cars lingered on the streets as worshipers filed inside for Shabbat services.
“The threat is alive and well. I’m not gonna say I’m used to it, but anything can happen anytime, anywhere,” Eber said. “We hope and pray that law enforcement takes it seriously. It’s a different world now.”
At the Temple Emanu-El on E.65th St. in Manhattan, a mobile command center and patrol guard stood outside the synagogue.
“Our counterterrorism coverage will continue to include coverage of synagogues, at least for the next few days,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. “Although I want to emphasize that there’s nothing to suggest New York is being targeted in this instance.”
Locals said the police presence was the same every Saturday, but news of what President Obama described as a “credible terrorist threat against our country” was on everyone’s lips.
“It’s scary, isn’t it? It’s odd, it’s creepy,” said Margery Daly, who sings in the choir and lives in Tarrytown. “We’re always in danger but you can’t dwell on it.”
In Chicago, members of the Jewish community continued their weekend services despite knowing that two packages containing white power and wires were addressed to two synagogues in the city’s North Side neighborhood.
“We’re always prepared,” said Emily Eyre, 49, who is also in the choir at Temple Emanu-El. “When you work in a synagogue you’re prepared for it.”