After news broke about the shooting spree that killed three people at a Jewish community center and retirement complex in Overland Park, leaders of Jewish congregations 35 miles away in Lawrence began taking measures to heighten security at upcoming Passover events.
During the next few days, Jewish congregations in Lawrence will be holding ceremonial services and dinners, called Seders, as a kickoff to Passover week, which began Monday.
Kansas University Hillel planned to hold its Seder at Maceli’s this evening. Jay Lewis, Hillel’s executive director, said he coordinated with the Lawrence Police Department to have a security presence at the event, which usually brings in a crowd of 100 people.
“We feel very confident that Lawrence overall is a very safe place,” Lewis said. “Just making sure people feel a sense of safety and security in light of what happened in Overland Park is why we want to make sure we have increased security.”
On Sunday, Frazier Glenn Cross, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and vocal anti-Semite from Aurora, Mo., was arrested, suspected of shooting and killing two people in the parking lot behind the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and one person near the retirement community Village Shalom, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities said Monday that prosecutors have enough evidence to pursue hate-crime charges, but that it was too early in the investigation to determine whether Cross had anti-Semitic motives, an Associated Press story reads.
After the shootings, Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel with Kansas University’s Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life worked with local authorities to provide security as a precaution for the center’s Seder services Monday and Tuesday.
“The most important response we feel we can have in the face of such darkness is increasing our community’s togetherness,” Tiechtel said. “Our goal with this holiday is to make as much light as we can within our community. The way you fight darkness is with light.”