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Jewish Community, Public Urged to Report Concerns after Beth Israel Attack


Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. | Image by Emil Lippe, Getty Images

Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of Albuquerque’s FBI Division, and CEO of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, Rabbi Dr. Rob Lennick, joined together to express an urgent need to protect the Jewish community following the hostage situation that occurred at Congregation Beth Israel in Texas.

In a media alert on January 20, these New Mexico officials ask, not only for those of their faith, but for all people, to “contact the FBI and local law enforcement with any tips, observations, or concerns about threats or suspicious activity.”

Bujanda stated, “I have reached out to several Jewish leaders to assure them we will never lose sight of the threat extremists pose to the Jewish community, and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups.”

He said that his division is working with the Anti-Defamation League. Rabbi Lennick spoke of the incident in Texas and stated that everyone should stand up to help prevent “hate crime, antisemitism, and racism in all forms.”

According to The Texas Tribune, “the reach of the assault was felt far and wide,” speaking of the attack on Congregation Beth Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League reports that several threats towards the Jewish community were noted last year; at least ten allegedly antisemitic incidents occurred in the state of Texas between October 2021 and December 2021 and have also occurred at an alarming rate across the United States.

These acts included vandalism, the display of banners that promote antisemitic groups, and images of swastikas, even one incident in the U.S. State Department last October where a swastika was found in an elevator.

Although the occurrence at Congregation Beth Israel is not currently classified as a case of anti-Semitism, because hostages were taken, it is associated with malice towards or disregard for others that culminated in a hostile situation.

The Anti-Defamation League Regional Director of Austin, Renee Lafair, stated, “When antisemitism increases, it’s usually a sign of greater issues of hate and division going on in society.”

Since the attack in Colleyville, Texas, police departments in some large cities have increased patrols around synagogues.

President of Ohio’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Andrew Rehfeld, spoke with ABC News about how Rabbi Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel handled an intense situation.

Rehfeld said, “How they respond in that is a reflection of their courage, their perseverance, their strength, and Rabbi Cytron-Walker really represented the very best of what we hope for, from our HUC graduates – and for any Jewish leader.”

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