Watch: North Texas synagogues continue to fortify after Colleyville hostage incident in January

By Olivia Yarvis
The Texas Tribune
Sept. 9, 2022

“Watch: North Texas synagogues continue to fortify after Colleyville hostage incident in January” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Jeff Cohen was able to keep a “complete sense of composure” during the 11-hour standoff he found himself in while attending services at his North Texas synagogue on Jan. 15. Taken hostage with three others, including a rabbi, Cohen knew he had to approach the situation like a chess game if they were all going to escape safely.

Pulling from the active-threat training he received at his synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, only half a year before, Cohen got the other hostages to slowly move toward the exit, setting them up for their eventual escape to safety.

This incident came after a record-breaking year of recorded antisemitic acts nationwide in 2021. And while Jewish people make up just 2% of the U.S. population, they are the target for more than 60% of religious-based hate crimes.

For North Texas synagogues, the Colleyville hostage situation was a harsh reminder of this state of affairs. In addition to reevaluating their existing security infrastructures, congregations are participating in security trainings covering everything from active-threat training and situational awareness to emergency first aid. Yet this is a recurring issue, and some wonder: Will it ever be enough?

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