NORFOLK -- "We're used to having very happy celebrations with just always a watchful eye," said Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg shortly before the Erev Rosh Hashanah service began at Ohef Sholom Temple.
The congregation, along with congregations around the world, mark the start of the Jewish New Year this week.
Recent spikes in anti-Semitism as well as terrorist activity prompted many synagogues in the United States and other countries to take additional safety precautions.
"I think all congregations, every year -- as do we -- prepare by making sure that all our security protocols are in place, and it is true that this year has been particularly violent throughout the world, so we've taken a few extra measures," Mandelberg told 13News Now. "We're just gonna pay attention, which I think is the most important thing."
Wednesday night, off-duty Norfolk police officers and sheriff's deputies assisted with security at the temple's entrances.
While the Jewish community is accustomed to being the target of hatred, Mandelberg pointed out it is not unique.
"The way the world is today, there are other religious groups being targeted as well. I think Christians in Iraq, we've seen all kinds of persecutions going on," Mandelberg noted.
Sharing her hopes for the new year, Mandelberg said, "I think that if each of us can do our part to show a little more compassion to others, hopefully, it'll rub off, some kind of chain reaction, but, yes, we do hope, of course, for a more peaceful world, and, individually, for a year full of good health and of blessings."