Bay Area synagogues increase security in wake of 'horrific' hate crime attack in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Synagogues in the Bay Area are stepping up security in the wake of the massacre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In Berkeley, police cruisers were parked outside many synagogues during services Saturday, including Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Beth El.

“Everyone says it won’t happen to us or me, but no one is free from these kinds of fears,” said Rabbi Yoel Kahn of Congregation Beth El. “We obviously are concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism and this incident is the latest expression of it.  We also see this as the bigger issue of violence in our country and the rise of hate rhetoric and hate speech.”

Saturday morning, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders -- who is Jewish -- appeared at a political rally in Berkeley, and addressed the massacre in Pittsburgh. 

“If this country stands for anything it has got to stand for the right of people, whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever they might be,” Sanders said.  “We have got to end that hatred, that bigotry which is sweeping this country.”

The Anti-Defamation League says incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise.  Figures show that incidents of anti-Semitism rose 57% in 2017, the largest year-to-year increase since the group started collecting data in 1979. 

“These include acts of vandalism, harassment and violent attacks like the one that occurred [in Pittsburgh Saturday],” said Seth Brysk of Anti-Defamation League.

Vigils are planned across the Bay Area Saturday night, including one open to the public at Congregation Beth El, at 1301 Oxford Street in Berkeley at 9:15 p.m.