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South Bend synagogue gears up to defend themselves

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- At first glance, it doesn't look like a synagogue.  There are no Jewish stars or signs to indicate it's a place of worship.

That is purposeful.

The Midwest Torah Center community, doesn't want to advertise what the building really is, in fear that it'll draw even more attention to a neighborhood that's already facing crime. 

"It makes me feel angry and I want to feel safe again," says Rabbi Kuppel Lindow.

Since August, the quiet neighborhood, with a synagogue in the middle of it, has seen it's fair share of crime.

ABC57 is told it started with car break-ins, a couple of home invasions.

"As of recent, the instances have escalated in their severity," says Rabbi Lindow, one of the center's rabbis. 

He decided to something about it.

An email was sent out to the congregation, offering self-defense courses, to help with the general unrest of the community.

The synagogue is partnering with Kodiak Firing Range and Training Facility, to teach both gun-safety and physical self-defense.

"I'm tired of being afraid of criminals," adds Rabbi Lindow.

He's not the only one who thinks enough is enough.

Simon Springer just moved to South Bend two months ago.

His car has already been broken into, and he's heard stories from his neighbors.

"I'm in the process of switching over my New York license to an Indiana license so that I can purchase a gun," says Springer. 

They don't believe this crimes are specifically because this is a Jewish neighborhood, but they want to be careful given past events. 

"It's the federations in California. It's the Rabbi in Miami. It's the graffiti," explains Rabbi Lindow.

They say now is the time to be proactive.

"We throughout the world, percentage-wise, experience the most amount of hate crimes in the entire world," says Rabbi Lindow.

"I'm new here and I've already heard it," adds Springer. "Rabbi Lindow's been here 20 years. People have been here longer. Why do they have to worry about their homes, their children, their possessions and their synagogues?"

The Midwest Torah Center will be implementing more secuirty and surveillance, to make sure everyone and everything stays safe. 

Another synagogue, not far away from the Torah Center, is also looking to change things. 

On November 8, at 6:30  p.m., the Hebrew Orthodox Congregation, will be hosting a meeting with the South Bend Police Department, to strategist how to tackle this problem. 

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