TC Jewfolk via JTA – A synagogue in the suburbs of Minneapolis closed its doors in the early hours of Friday morning after receiving what its CEO considered “a specific threat of violence” – the day after 32 headstones were toppled in a Jewish cemetery neighbor.
While local authorities do not believe the two incidents are connected at this time, the timing of the incidents and their proximity has raised concern among Jews in the Minneapolis-St.
“People are certainly wondering about the situation and talking about it in the community,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Hunegs described the general mood as “purposeful, vigilant, preoccupied, but ultimately calm. “
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Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park made a decision to close Friday and conduct Shabbat services online after ADL Midwest regional offices in Chicago informed the congregation of the violent threat it had received via its online incident reporting system. The threat was aimed at an unspecified “Beth El Synagogue”, but it mentioned the name of St. Louis Park and appeared to be from the area.
Meanwhile, St. Paul Police and the FBI are investigating a Wednesday-Thursday night vandalism at Chesed Shei Emes Cemetery in St. There are no suspects.
All the tombstones were returned to their places on Friday afternoon.
“It is a beautiful cemetery, close to where I live,” said Chesed Shei Emes president Ken Otto. “You put your heart and soul into it… and you see someone doing stupid things like that.” These people did nothing to anyone. They are dead. “
Beth El reopened Monday morning for all activities. Leaders at the conservative synagogue have indicated that they plan to hold Yom Kippur services in person as scheduled Wednesday evening and Thursday.
“While last week’s threat investigation remains active and ongoing, the threat deadline has passed,” synagogue executive director Matt Walzer wrote to worshipers in an email Sunday afternoon. “In coordination with the local authorities, we are moving forward with this decision and obtained an additional presence of the police to ensure the safety of our synagogue community and the families of the kindergartens. “
Other synagogues and Jewish organizations in the area, including the Jewish Community Center of Minnesota, have expressed solidarity with Beth El, with some also indicating they will strengthen the security of their institutions in light of the threat.
ADL Midwest, JCRC and the Secure Community Network said they were in contact with local and federal law enforcement regarding the synagogue threat and vandalism in the cemetery.
Specific details of the threat are not being disclosed, with authorities citing an ongoing investigation. At a press conference on Friday afternoon, St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano praised the close ties between Beth El and law enforcement.
To have your place of worship threatened during the holiest days of the year – appalling. I’m with you, and my team and I are here for whatever you need. Stay safe. https://t.co/EFgbK8DIrf
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) September 10, 2021
What I take away for now is the trust… that our police department and the Jewish community in St. Louis Park have developed over the years – a close, close relationship and coordination around this kind of thing. threats, ”Spano said. “As tragic as it may be, [la menace] will not diminish the Jewish community ”.
At the cemetery, Otto suspected the perpetrators of these acts of being children who had nothing better to do and expressed doubts about their capture.
“It’s just very disheartening that this is happening,” said Otto. “I hear about what’s going on… you see it, but it never happens to you.” Well, it finally happened to me ”.
Hunegs said the JCRC did not know whether the threat and the vandalism were related. He noted the strengthening of security measures for the Jewish community in recent times.
“It is important to keep in mind that we have gained experience in dealing with such issues, which are, unfortunately, a reflection of the times we live in,” he said. ” [Notre réponse] was not invented today or yesterday. We’ve been working on it for some time. “
This article, courtesy of TC Jewfolk, is based on a series of reports originally published in TC Jewfolk.