MADISON, Wis.— As the FBI shared a warning of potential violence by extremists inside houses of worship, one Madison holy man shared how his is trying to mitigate those risks with some special efforts.

What You Need To Know

  • FBI urges holy places to be on alert to extremist threats

  • Madison's Temple Beth El's religious leaders trained by Dane County Sheriff's Office to mitigate threats

  • Milwaukee Jewish Federation also assisting its' dozens of Jewish Centers on best practices for changing fear based responses

"I think we need to be prepared for these eventuality," Rabbi Johnathan Biatch said. Biatch is a rabbi at Temple Beth El in Madison.

Through special scenario training, he has prepared for unthinkable situations, including the likes of the Sabbath Day Texas Synagogue rescue.

"That's been coordinated by the Dane County sheriff's department. And they are tremendous about coming in and showing us the things we need to know. And especially actually, response to threats have changed, constantly evolving," Biatch said.

Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s director of security and community properties, Ari Friedman, agreed that the response is something that must always be worked on. He has helped dozens of religious centers around Wisconsin, including Temple Beth El, hone muscle memory reactive skills and change fear based responses.

"We are not powerless. We are very powerful beings and if we have that mentality in these situations, our chances for survival are much greater. It gives us the ability to have distanced worship," Friedman said.

Just six months ago, Biatch renovated his holy room with flexible seating and streaming cameras—  not just for reducing COVID-19 risks, but for anyone fearful of in person acts of  anti-semitism. 

"This is a place of both sanctity and security and also know that they can come here with people who feel at a like minded way and to know that they can access this from their homes. If they feel more comfortable doing so," he said.