FBI on alert of possible threats to Jewish community ahead Passover

Federal law enforcement are on high alert for potential threats to the Jewish community heading into the Passover holiday. 

At the Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, being on alert has become an everyday operation.

"We have multiple layers to our security platform we can’t discuss." said Bud Monaghan, Executive Director for JFed Security LLC. 

Standing in front of a bank of surveillance monitors, Monaghan runs what looks like a full-fledged police department, but JFed Security is a private agency with a sole mission: keeping the area’s Jewish people and facilities safe.

 "There’s a need to make sure the community is prepared, aside from just a guard at the door" said Monaghan who is also the former Cherry Hill Police Chief. He was hired to run JFed Security in 2021.

Operating from a 2nd floor command center inside the Katz JCC the service is a 24-hour regional security arm for 7 Jewish Federations from most of New Jersey to Delaware. The agency employs nearly 50 retired cops as officers, it uses an intelligence analyst, holds active shooter training and has a live security camera network monitoring synagogues from Wilmington to Margate.  

"We want to give people the opportunity to worship freely and to worship safely and to go into a synagogue, go into services and not have fear that god forbid something would occur" says Monaghan.

As Passover begins on Monday, the FBI puts Jewish facilities across the country on high alert for potential threats.

"We at the Bureau remain particularly concerned that lone actors that could target large gatherings, high profile events or symbolic or religious locations for violence" said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Just this week, the Anti-Defamation League reported more than 8800 antisemitic events last year, including vandalism, assaults and harassment.  The highest number since they began tracking. 

In New Jersey the number of incidents have has doubled according to the ADL.

Back at the JCC in Cherry Hill, despite the warnings, it’s business as usual, since being on alert here seems to be an around the clock job.

"From a situational awareness standpoint, it is a heightened environment, unfortunately, with everything going on in the world, but we also want our community to know we are prepared," added Monaghan.

There has also been a sharp rise in reports of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian incidents since the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Despite the rise in incidents, the Justice Department says there are no specific credible threats.