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Jacksonville Jewish community resilient after recent Texas synagogue attack

Officials say safety training is provided often in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A nearly 12-hour hostage negotiation at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Texas is sadly something the Jacksonville Jewish community prepares for.

“It’s almost like breathing. Sometimes you’re not even aware of what you’re now somewhat trained to do,” said Mariam Shpeen Feist, Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida CEO. “Being very aware of your environment, being aware of duffle bags or backpacks being left unattended, knowing where exits are.”

Feist says safety training is given year-round across the country.

“Secure Community Network is its own 501C3 and they’ve really added a level of expertise. They work very closely with the United States Homeland Security and with FBI,” Feist said.

The trainings consist of things like Stop The Bleed, Run Hide Fight and even security systems for buildings.

“Those are the type of programs we're bringing to the Jewish communities, and we’re bringing here to Northeast Florida, to help everyday people who walk into our synagogues, our Jewish Community Alliance, our schools, any Jewish origination, how to be aware of their environment and what to do if a crisis arises.”

Feist says although the idea of preparing for a crisis or even witnessing one in another state is scary, strength is key.

“Jewish community, we are resilient. This has been our whole history from pogroms to anti-Semites to the Holocaust. We don’t want to be put in fear and we also don’t want to let, I don’t know how else to put it, let haters or enemies win. We have been here for thousands of years and, we will be here for thousands of more years, but we need to be educated and trained,” Feist said.

Feist says SCN training was conducted over the summer in Jacksonville, with another training session scheduled for March.

RELATED: Colleyville hostage-taker timeline: When and where he went before showing up at Congregation Beth Israel

RELATED: FBI Jacksonville branch launches public awareness campaign encouraging people to report hate crimes

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