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'It was traumatic for the Jewish community to witness' | Knoxville rabbi reflects on synagogue hostage situation

Temple Beth El rabbi Erin Boxt said safety measures are in place, but the synagogue is looking into more to keep the congregation safer.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On January 15, four people were held hostage inside a Colleyville, TX synagogue for nearly 12 hours.

"It was traumatic for the Jewish community to witness this weekend," Knoxville's Temple Beth El rabbi Erin Boxt said.

Boxt said this wasn't just traumatic for the Jewish community, but all places of worship. 

 "I drove around the building [Temple Beth El] a couple times before I parked because I was a little bit sort of, not afraid, but I was kind of hesitant a little bit," Boxt said.

Authorities confirmed all four hostages taken at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas were alive and safe.

Boxt said when he found out the good news, he felt at peace for a moment in time.

"There was this great sense of now we can, now I can go to sleep," Boxt said.

The Knoxville rabbi said safety measures are in place in his synagogue. This includes having locked doors, security cameras, extra lights outside and a buzz-in system.

But, he said he's planning to enact more safety measures soon.

"We are now going to have a police officer here anytime we have a service - whether it's just me or a whole group of people - and this is a change that we are immediately doing as a result of what happened this past weekend," Boxt said.

Boxt said Sunday morning, he sent a message to his congregation explaining Saturday's events and the safety measures in place at Temple Beth El. He also assured them their congregation is strong.

"We're not going to stop being who we are and we're not going to stop doing what we do," Boxt said.

He said it's important all places of worship have a safety plan in place.