Connecticut Synagogue “Zoom-Bombed” During Shabbat Service
July 15, 2020
A synagogue in suburban Connecticut is reeling after an online Shabbat service was hijacked by anti-Semitic hackers in the middle of the Mourner’s Kaddish, one of the most solemn moments of a Jewish prayer service.
Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation in Newington, CT, had been running online services since the beginning of the pandemic without any issues. The Algemeiner reported that more than 200 people were tuned in to Temple Sinai’s online service on Friday night, July 10th. They were traumatized by what happened next: swastikas, and other anti-Semitic images filling the screen.
The hackers utilized a number of Zoom features to spread their anti-Semitism. They used the annotate feature to put bigoted images on the screen. They took over the sound to mockingly play Klezmer music. The hackers even resorted to the chat function on Zoom to write anti-Semitic statements for all of the two-hundred congregants on the call to see.
Many synagogues across the country have been targeted in a similar fashion during the pandemic. Andy Friedland, the assistant regional director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), described this unfortunate new reality to NBC Connecticut. Friedland said, “As our lives move online, so do hateful people.” After getting a request from Temple Sinai, the ADL notified Zoom’s security mailbox about the hateful incident.
Leaders of the synagogue were disturbed by what happened during what is normally a peaceful Shabbat evening service. Temple Sinai’s Rabbi, Jeffrey Bennett, told NBC Connecticut that “They put up a caricature of the Jew with a big nose. It was just so upsetting.” His dismay was echoed by Jill Dulitsky, the President of Temple Sinai’s Board of Trustees. Dulitsky stated, “It is just so horrible and hateful. I just can’t imagine that someone would take the effort to actually track us down.”
To prevent a similar incident from happening in the future, local Connecticut police suggest creating a password for Zoom meetings and having attendees pre-register. In the meantime, this Connecticut synagogue continues to feel the pain as their virtual place of worship was attacked.