The First Amendment’s promise of Freedom of Religion is a sacred guarantee in the U.S. Constitution — and every so often, that freedom requires decisive action to ensure it never erodes.
A tragic truth is that we live in an era in which brutal and targeted attacks on Jewish places of worship, education, culture, and business are seemingly ticking up.
This trend was made painfully clear as recently as last week when the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg was vandalized with the spray-painting of a nauseating swastika and the words “Jews are Guilty.”
That’s why it’s heartening to know that the mammoth state budget passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis includes a significant $500,000 appropriation to improve total security at Tallahassee’s 80-year-old Temple Israel.
Temple Israel Rabbi Michael Shields praised the inclusion with this gesture of appreciation:
“This historic and appropriate action taken by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature will long be remembered as visionary and vital to protecting the ability of Tallahassee’s Jewish community to continue to safely provide services through its community center and preschool, and to worship as they choose, as guaranteed in the First Amendment. The lessons learned from the Holocaust taught us all that ‘never again’ can humanity allow such atrocities against any group.
“We still live in a dangerous world in which acts of violence against various groups represents a modern form of domestic terrorism. That includes cowardly anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions — as with the recent assault on Florida’s Holocaust Museum.
“The action by Gov. DeSantis and the Legislature to support our need to fortify our facilities reflects a true value to protect our people. We express heartfelt gratitude on behalf of Tallahassee’s Jewish community. In the end, what this support cost is totally eclipsed by what it actually saves: the freedom to safely gather and worship.”