US Synagogue attack puts Jewish community on edge
Texas Synagogue Hostages Taken by Gunman During Livestream Service
The man allegedly went on several profanity-laced rants while holding the victims hostage.The hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville began during the synagogue's live-streamed Shabbat service, according to Reuters. No injuries have been reported inside the building.
Recent attacks on Jewish institutions -- including thein Texas on Jan. 15 -- have cast a dark shadow on the simple act of walking into a Jewish institution.
The faith-based attacks have forced community leaders to prioritize security and safety precautions to maintain their ability to pray, congregate and practice their faith, Eric Fingerhut, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told ABC News.
"This is not new," Fingerhut said. "This has been a particularly violent period of attacks on Jewish institutions and on Jewish community."
Hostages safe after Texas synagogue standoff; captor dead
The man took over services at a Texas synagogue where he could be heard ranting on a livestream.One hostage held Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville was released during the standoff; three others got out about 9 p.m. when an FBI SWAT team entered the building, authorities said. The hostage taker was killed and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate “the shooting incident.
On Jan. 15, an armed suspect that claimed to have bombs took a rabbi and three others hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was held hostage, told reporters that his training with the Jewish-led security training organization Secure Community Network helped get his congregants out safely.
Since antisemitism is still present in the U.S., protecting one's congregation is key, community leaders say. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tracked 2,024 antisemitic incidents in 2020, the third-highest year on record since the organization began tracking these incidents in 1979.
Support flows to 'changed' Texas synagogue after standoff
DALLAS (AP) — The tight-knit congregation at a Texas synagogue where four people were held hostage by an armed captor during a 10-hour standoff over the weekend traces its roots back to a gathering organized over 20 years ago by a handful of families who were new to the area. “It was a Jewish holiday and we were just feeling kind of isolated and unsure who else was living here that was Jewish,” Anna Salton Eisen, a founder and former president of Congregation Beth Israel, said Sunday.
Faith-based communities“by both domestic violent extremists and those inspired by foreign terrorists," according to a note sent on Monday to law enforcement officials and houses of worship nationwide by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
"The fact that he'd been trained like so many members of the clergy and other communal leaders in active shooter drills, in hostage crises, and how to deal with terrorist scenarios unfolding in your synagogue ... it's actually not a surprise," ADL's CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt told ABC News.
Jewish communities across the US are on heightened alert after the Texas standoff: 'Is our community under attack again?'
Jewish communities across the United States once again find themselves on edge in the wake of another attack on worshippers at a synagogue, this time at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, where a man interrupted Saturday's Shabbat service and held four people hostage for hours. © Andy Jacobsohn/AFP/Getty Images SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Dallas, on January 15, 2022.
"We are in an environment where, whether you run a synagogue or a JCC [Jewish community center] or a day school or a summer camp, you need to take action and be vigilant because of the very real threat of violence," Greenblatt said.
The Secure Community Network is a national security initiative composed of former high-level law enforcement officials that work across 146 federations and more than 300 individual groups. They train religious leaders in threat and vulnerability assessments, training and drill programs.
Brad Orsini, the organization's senior national security advisor, said that in Texas, leaders were taught basic situational awareness: what to look for, what suspicious behavior may look like. They also engaged in active shooter training, countering an active threat training and life-saving training to stop bleeding.
"We really teach that community the necessary tools to stay alive for three to five minutes prior to law enforcement getting there," Orsini told ABC News. "Law enforcement is not there when an incident happens so we need to know those initial steps to keep ourselves alive."
The organization said it also provides a 24/7 analyst who is on alert for security threats from across the country.
Security and safety training are beginning to become a part of daily life as Jewish leaders, Fingerhut said. He said they're doing what it takes to protect the community's ability to practice their faith rightfully and freely.
"The basis of our religion is the community," Fingerhut said. "If people are afraid to take their kids to a JCC or to summer camp or afraid to go to synagogue to pray with their community, that would be the ultimate tragedy."
Feds declare hostage standoff at Texas synagogue an act of terrorism, hate crime .
Federal officials on Friday declared the hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue an act of antisemitic terrorism. “Let me be clear,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Jill Sanborn said, “the FBI is and has been treating Saturday’s events as an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.” She made the remark during a White House call that sought to reassure unnerved Jewish Americans that law enforcement is dedicated to rooting out terroristic violence.