05:31 AM 10:31 PM EST OCT 1, 2023 JLM 68°F
49 synagogues have been evacuated due to bomb threats

At least two more synagogues in the United States evacuated their congregants over the weekend following bomb threats, the latest in a series of such calls that have put dozens of congregations on high alert heading into the High Holidays.

One of the synagogues was threatened during the pre-Rosh Hashanah Selichot services on Saturday night, in a sign that the perpetrators of the wave of attacks are paying careful attention to when synagogues are holding events before calling in their threats.

Since mid-July, at least 49 synagogues in 13 states have received the threatening calls, none of which have been linked to credible bomb threats, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That was up from 26 congregations four weeks ago —and the ADL expects the threats to continue when the High Holidays begin with the start of Rosh Hashanah on Friday evening. 

“Every weekend this network of swatters continues to identify targets and are calling in fake bomb threats,” Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, using a term referring to pranks that draw out a large number of police officers. “So that number is increasing and will potentially keep increasing.” 

Segal said the calls are part of a coordinated campaign orchestrated by antisemitic trolls and focused on synagogues that livestream their services, so the perpetrators can watch reactions to the threats in real time. But he noted that some institutions have been targeted even though they don’t livestream their events, and that the culprits are also developing a growing interest in non-Jewish institutions such as mosques and Black churches.

The synagogues that received bomb threats this weekend were Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California, in the Bay Area, and Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg, Florida. In both cases, the synagogues emptied out as police conducted full safety sweeps of the premises. 

Source - JTA/X - Image - Reuters

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