By Calvin Dudley SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)–Last Saturday, a gunman shot and killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh, PA synagogue. While the events took place in a different state, one Syracuse resident can empathize with those who have been intimidated by anti-Semitic behavior.
“…Literally my breath was caught. I mean…you almost couldn’t breathe for a few minutes, and you didn’t believe that this was happening,” said Marci Erlebacher, the Executive Director of the Syracuse Jewish Community Center.
Erlebacher says this attack was one of the worst she can remember against Jewish people in the US. As the director of a Jewish community center, Erlebacher says she and her fellow board members are always thinking about how to keep people safe. The JCC currently holds students grades preK through 6th.
In the past, she says, having an armed guard was not supported, but after the attacks she expects board members’ opinion’s to change.
“After this attack…I know that I’ll get 100 percent from the board because it has rocked there world,” said Erlebacher.
She says that she does not know that an armed guard would have mitigated the attacks, but thinks that having one would at least comfort people.
Right now, Erlebacher is saying that the recent attacks in Pittsburgh are the most pressing issue, but she says she always has to be on her toes. These attacks hit close to home for her as this Jewish Community Center dealt with two bomb threats almost two years ago.
Erlebacher says that security measures were already in place before the threat, but admits changes were made to ensure people’s safety. In response to those attacks she says the center now requires visitors to sign-in, show ID, and wear visitor-marked lanyards.
She is in a tough position. Erlebacher says that she wants people to be safe, but wants people to always feel welcomed at the JCC.
“At the end of the day our job is to support people, and give individuals a place they can call home,” said Erlebacher.