St. Louis Jewish groups affected by ‘Zoombombing’

A Shabbat service featuring members of the Madrid and Barcelona Reform communities. (Sarah I. Gonzalez) 

By Eric Berger, Associate Editor

Three virtual gatherings in the St. Louis Jewish community have been interrupted by “Zoomboming” over the last month, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Like the rest of the country, synagogues and other religious groups have turned to Zoom, an online meeting platform, for services and meetings as people are unable to gather in person during the coronavirus pandemic.

The local gatherings were a meeting of the Diversity Awareness Partnership, a committee meeting at a local synagogue to discuss Passover preparations and a Friday night Shabbat service. (The Jewish Light agreed not to name the synagogue holding the meeting or service.)

The interruptions included anti-Semitic messages, loud heavy metal music and a rabbi being called out by name.

“People should feel no less safe in a Zoom space that a synagogue creates than if they were actually in the building because it’s hard right now,” said Karen Aroesty, regional director of the ADL. “The emotional toll that social distancing and staying at home is having almost requires that we do more to protect the community and not take for granted that just because people are at home, they are protected.”

The Zoombombing is not limited to the Jewish community. The New York Times reported last month on meetings held by companies such as Chipotle that were forced to shut down because of the interruptions.

The ADL has issued a list of instructions to try and prevent Zoombombing, which include: disabling the “join before host” option, enabling a “waiting room” and locking the meeting if all attendees are present.

For a full list of recommendations, visit