San Antonio Jewish institutions briefly suspend activities amid unspecified safety threat

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(JTA) — An unspecified security threat disrupted Shabbat services and other Jewish activities in San Antonio, Texas, for several hours on Saturday before local Jewish leaders gave an all clear.

“We have received information from our experts that the safety situation for the Jewish synagogues in San Antonio today is not optimal for us to conduct our regularly scheduled Shabbat services,” Temple Beth-El posted on Facebook just before 10:30 a.m. local time.

The synagogue’s decision came after the local Jewish federation warned that it had been informed by the FBI of a “potential threat to an unconfirmed Jewish facility in the San Antonio area” and was urging the suspension of all community gatherings “until further notice.”

At 3:30 p.m., the Jewish Federation of San Antonio called off the alert, saying that the FBI had said there was “no ‘known imminent threat’” to the community.

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“Although we recommend staying vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times, we are pleased to share that the urgency of concern has been lowered,” the group said in a statement posted to its social media channels.

The nature of the potential threat was not immediately clear. The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors antisemitism, said in a statement by CEO Jonathan Greenblatt that it had been “in close contact with federal, state, and local law enforcement” for three days and that “a more specific and credible threat” had emerged in the previous day. In a subsequent statement, the group said a suspect had been apprehended, although no arrests had been announced by police.

The unusual incident comes after a spate of alarming incidents for American Jews, including in Texas. In January, a rabbi and three congregants were taken hostage during Shabbat services in a synagogue in Colleyville, about four hours north of San Antonio, by a man who was killed by law enforcement agents. Last November, an Austin synagogue was damaged by arson, and a man was arrested in that case; it followed an antisemitic display in that city.

Greenblatt also mentioned last week’s deadly mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, a heavily Jewish suburb of Chicago, and a “heightened threat environment” as reasons for vigilance.


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