St. Louis religious, political leaders rebuke terrorist attack at Texas synogogue

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The 11-hour standoff at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, ended late Saturday night with the rabbi and other hostages released safely and the suspect dead, police and political officials said.

The suspect, a 44-year-old British national named Malik Faisal Akram, disrupted Shabbat-morning services as they were being livestreamed on Facebook and held its rabbi and several others until law-enforcement agents rescued them around 9:30 p.m. local time.

After the hostage situation ended local religious and state leaders reacted to the incident.

Federation and JCRC Joint Statement on Colleyville and our Communal Efforts

Dear Community,

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While we breathe a sigh of relief today that the hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, were released alive and unharmed, yesterday’s events have left us shaken. Our hearts go out to the Beth Israel community in Colleyville and the broader Jewish communities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

We join the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, who expressed relief, joy, and gratitude for the tremendous support received “during this more than 10-hour ordeal. We are grateful to all, and especially for law enforcement and first responders on the scene who worked so diligently today and always to keep our community safe.”

While yesterday’s events were localized, this latest attack on a Jewish house of worship is part of an undeniable trend of rising antisemitism in this country, with security and environmental implications here in the Bay Area. We at the Federation and JCRC have responded accordingly.

The Federation’s Community Security team coordinated with the Secure Community Network (SCN), created by Jewish Federations of North America, throughout the day. SCN reports that the situation appears to be local and isolated, and they are not aware of any direct, credible threats to any other institutions. The Federation Community Security team, led by Rafi Brinner, kept our Bay Area synagogues and Jewish organizations updated on the security situation and advised them to continue reviewing and implementing their security protocols.

Federation and JCRC continue to coordinate with local and state law enforcement agencies, advising them on our local communal security needs. As a precaution and in a show of support to the Jewish community, the San Francisco Police Department and many other agencies throughout the Bay Area have responded by increasing patrols around our Jewish institutions.

Additionally, JCRC has been in contact with more than 500 local, state, and federal elected, civic, and faith leaders to brief them on unfolding events, offer community guidance and antisemitism resources, and thank them for their leadership in speaking out. We are deeply appreciative of our state and local leadership who spoke out, including Governor Gavin NewsomAttorney General Rob Bonta, California Legislative Jewish Caucus Chair Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and Vice Chair Senator Scott WienerSan Francisco Mayor London BreedOakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and many others.

We choose a life of joy, authenticity, meaning, and pride as Jewish Americans. Our organizations will continue to operate through preparedness, and not in fear. JCRC’s coalition-building work continues to bring the Jewish community together with our neighbors, educating Bay Area leaders and communities about our Jewish American experiences, and building common cause against hate, together. The Federation’s Community Security Program continues to provide training, consultation, and resources to increase the physical and psychological safety of our Jewish institutions.

Our work is guided by Jewish values, including the value of kehillah, or community. In the words of our sages, “the whole Jewish people are responsible for each other.” When one Jewish community is under threat, we all feel it deeply. Then and now, in both hardship and celebration, we are always together as one people. The Federation and JCRC stand together with Jewish communities everywhere.

Sincerely,


Joy Sisisky
Interim CEO and Chief Philanthropy Officer
Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund


Message from St. Louis Jewish Community Leaders

The entire Jewish Community of St. Louis is grateful that law enforcement has brought the hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas to a conclusion with now hostages harmed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this act of terrorism directed at Congregation Beth Israel and by extension all Jews everywhere.

It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted once again during worship on our Sabbath. As we weep for those affected, we pray for healing for all those impacted by this horrific attack.

This situation is a sobering reminder that we must continue to combat and condemn antisemitism and all forms of hatred. We are grateful for the tireless work of Scott Biondo and the Jewish Federation of St. Louis who has been working with the community’s security liaison group to apprise them of the situation in Texas throughout the ordeal and ensure that there was no threat in our area. He has been in regular contact with law enforcement to make sure our St. Louis Jewish community remains secure. We are also grateful to all the elected officials nationally and locally who have spoken out forcefully against this horrific attack and to faith leaders throughout our St. Louis region who have expressed their solidarity with our Jewish community. We are stronger together.